Posted by: getthenac | March 2, 2011

Pre-Medical Conference Teaches Undergrads about Graduate School, Promotes Diversity

from Wayne Wood:

Brian Cruz, a fourth year medical student at Vanderbilt, was the president of the planning committee that put together this year’s Levi Watkins Jr., M.D. Pre-Medical Conference, and he sent some news along about the event, which was held Feb. 19 at Vanderbilt. Here’s some of what Brian wrote:

Forty-five attendees representing 14 different colleges and universities came to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to attend the third annual Levi Watkins, Jr. MD Pre-Medical Conference. The one-day, student-run conference represents a collaborative effort between medical students at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College. The conference brings together a diverse array of undergraduate students from various schools to provide them with practical information designed to assist them in their application to graduate school.

Joyce Johnson, M.D., professor of Pathology at VUMC, demonstrates anatomic pathology to a group of participants.

Earl Stewart, Jr., a member of the conference planning committee and medical student at Meharry Medical College, answers questions from conference attendee Sheliseya Edwards.

The ultimate goal of the conference is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities within the health professions, including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and biomedical research. While we work to promote ethnic and racial diversity, we do not restrict any students from attending. Rather, we work to spread the recognition that diversity of healthcare providers leads to better health outcomes for all of society, and therefore is something that students of every race, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, and all other differences should aim to foster.

The conference was started in 2009 by two Vanderbilt medical students, Vernon Rayford (VUSM 2009) and Jason Castellanos (VUSM 2009). It is named in honor of Dr Levi Watkins, Jr. (VUSM 1971), the first African-American graduate from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, in recognition of his role in integrating Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and his continued efforts throughout his career to increase minority representation in the health professions.

The conference continues to be run by medical students: this year’s Planning Committee consisted of seven student members who came from Vanderbilt and Meharry. The conference is also made possible every year by generous student volunteers from both schools who lead workshops and conduct mock interviews for the attendees. Furthermore, faculty members from Vanderbilt and Meharry graciously donate their time serving on panels, giving talks to the participants, and demonstrating anatomical pathology.

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