The LMSA 2017 Policy Conference

by Samantha Espinosa, MS4, Donald Rodriguez, MSTP, and David Pontes, MS1

This October 20-22, the Latino Medical Student Association held its 4th annual and 2nd stand-alone Policy Summit at the AAMC Learning Center in Washington, DC. This year the theme was “Si se puede! Empowering physicians in-training through advocacy, policy, and community”. Health care students from across the nation attended the conference to voice their support of immigrant populations throughout the United States, especially those within the medical community. With some help from the Pritzker Office of Multicultural Affairs, three of our own students, Samantha Espinosa, MS4, Donald Rodriguez, MSTP, and David Pontes, MS1 were able to attend the conference.

On Friday, October 20, over 110 medical students, resident and attending physicians spoke to state legislative representatives and rallied on Capitol Hill. Attendees used their voices and narratives to advocate for a clean DREAM Act, lifting the Jones Act, providing aid to Puerto Rico, CHIP Reauthorization, and for the protected continuation of Graduate Medical Education for those who are dependent on DACA.

Rally at the Capitol Building
Rallying at the Capitol Building

The following day, Saturday, October 21, a number of powerful speakers and workshops honed in on the theme of empowering physicians-in-training through advocacy, policy, and community at the AAMC Learning Center.  Keynote speakers included Aisha T. Liferidge MD, MPH, a highly accomplished leader in health policy and avid advocate for promoting future public health and health policy leaders as well as Juan Rivera, MD, MHS, a nationally recognized medical expert, author, and TV personality who has been influential for his leadership within the Latinx community. Workshops included talks from various representatives from the CDC, AAMC, as well as other academic and policy professionals with themes of paths to health equity and taking action on health disparities, providing care for unaccompanied immigrant children, access to health care for Latinx people in the Trump Era, leadership in academia, health policy development, and effective grassroots organizing.

A workshop at LMSA

Finally, the summit concluded on Sunday, October 22, with the creation of a plan of action for Puerto Rico as well as an LMSA Congress of delegates where resolutions by LMSA members were reviewed for adoption by the national organization. Since the election results last November, there has been an increasing amount of fear and uncertainty across America in immigrant populations, and opportunities such as the 2017 Policy Summit are an invaluable way of standing resolute in supporting these communities and developing the leadership skills needed  to serve and advocate from a local community to national level.

Another rally