TCOM Hosting 11th Annual LMSA Southwest Regional Conference
The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine is hosting the 11th Annual Latino Medical Student Association Southwest Regional Conference from February 3 to 5. The conference will feature the first female and Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General as the keynote speaker, Dr. Antonia Novello on February 4.
“I think it’s important for TCOM to be hosting this conference because it shows a continual commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said fourth-year TCOM student Victoria Ibarra-Aleman. “Actions speak louder than words, and this is the action we love to see.”
Ibarra-Aleman serves as the chief information officer for LMSA’s southwest region. She said the name of the conference for this year is “El Futuro es Nuestro: Embracing our Roots to Build a Better Future in Medicine.”
“TCOM is extremely proud and honored to be hosting the LMSA Southwest Regional Conference on our campus,” said Everett Endowed Professor Dr. Frank Filipetto, dean of TCOM. “We are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion at TCOM, and I’m thrilled to give so many high school students a chance to learn more about medicine. There will be so many students with diverse backgrounds attending and we want them to know that a career in medicine is possible.”
TCOM last hosted the conference at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth in 2015.
“TCOM has a very active LMSA chapter so we knew we would have a lot of support from the students,” said Luis Valdez, co-director of LMSA SW and a fourth-year medical student at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. “Once we met with Dr. [Rynn] Ziller to pitch the idea, we realized that we would also receive a lot of support from the administration, which helped with the host selection process.”
The conference’s opening day will feature a day dedicated to high school students across the area. It will focus on those from historically marginalized backgrounds to introduce them to a career in health care. The day’s activities include talks on the road to medical school, skills workshops, panels with health care professionals and a college exhibition fair.
“For many of the Latinx high school students, becoming a doctor or entering the health care field might seem like a goal they cannot achieve,” Ibarra-Aleman said. “High school day gives us an opportunity to not only encourage them to achieve their goals, but also helps show the students that there is a space for them in medicine by allowing them to meet medical students and health care students, ask questions and get a glimpse of medicine through our workshops. The High School Day is a great example as to why representation in medicine matters.”
Valdez agreed and emphasized how important it is to expose LatinX students to medicine at an early age.
“It is important that students from our background realize that they are capable and can be a doctor,” he said. “Representation is so important and helps with motivation and confidence. I want these high school students to get exposed to medicine, and if interested, develop skills/relationships that will help them along their long journey to medicine.”
LMSA SW is expecting around 70 high school students on Friday and 130 attendees on Saturday. The organization is made up of more than 25 LMSA chapters across Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma. There are also multiple LMSA Plus chapters at undergraduate institutions as the organization continues its growth. Networking and panels will be a big part of the conference. Attendees will also learn some of the underlying principles of Osteopathic Medicine.
“We are featuring osteopathic faculty, such as Dr. [Chris] Medina and Dr. [Sam] Selby, and highlighting our osteopathic principles, all while providing the tools necessary to serve our underrepresented communities,” said Owen Saenz, president of the TCOM chapter of LMSA. “TCOM is demonstrating the initiative and leadership necessary to host this conference. Additionally, TCOM is displaying our role in the community by choosing to host a conference focused on serving an underserved community.”
Saenz, a second-year student at TCOM, grew up in a variety of cities and places during his youth and can relate to those who might not see a career in medicine as a possibility.
“Being raised in disadvantaged communities, I only saw myself being a product of my environment — or at least a product of what I saw,” he said. “My brother changed that perception by teaching me that rather than ‘becoming a product of my environment, I should become someone for my environment.’ Our High School conference day will open opportunities for mentorship, motivation, networking and skill building that will prepare the Hispanic and Latino youth to become someone for the environment.”
The high school students will take part in suturing and splint-casting workshops while also having the opportunity to interact with Latino medical students and physicians from across the region. They will also have an opportunity to participate in an osteopathic manipulative medicine workshop.
“I am excited for TCOM to host the conference because it’ll give us an opportunity to showcase how amazing TCOM is and all we have to offer,” Ibarra-Aleman said. “I am excited about our OMM workshop so we can show how proud we are of being an osteopathic school.”
“As the current president of the LMSA chapter at TCOM, I am proud to welcome the LMSA region to our campus,” said Saenz. “I am also excited to learn how I can better serve my Latino and underrepresented communities right here in our humble city of Fort Worth.”