Latinx Med Students Reflect on Hispanic Heritage Month | PCOM News
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LMSA Leadership Share Importance of Hispanic Heritage Month

October 26, 2020

Across the country, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. Since 1968, this national event celebrates the history, culture and contribution of Hispanic and Latinx Americans from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. This year, the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) hosted a wide variety of events throughout the month-long celebration. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these events were hosted online. Below, LMSA leaders share why Hispanic Heritage Month is so important to them, both as proud Hispanic women and future physicians.

Dianne Mancheno (DO ’23), president, LMSA

Dianne Mancheno (DO ’23), president, LMSA“When I first came to PCOM, I struggled to meet other Latinx students. Joining LMSA allowed me to meet Latinx students who shared a similar background as me. This year, even though we were virtual, we still wanted new students to have an opportunity to meet one another. For Hispanic Heritage Month, we hosted more events than ever before because we wanted new students to feel welcome and comfortable. These virtual events allowed us to bring together both Latinx community members and allies and raise awareness to issues that folks may not be aware of. We wanted to share information with future physicians about what their patients might face in the future.

For me, the most important event we hosted this month was ‘Ethics of Medical Deportation’. Students from all three PCOM campuses came away from the event wanting to know what they could do to advocate for patients at risk of medical deportation. This is happening in communities very close to us and it’s very important to have this conversation.”

Kimberly Tena Diaz (DO ’23) vice president, LMSA

Kimberly Tena Diaz (DO ’23) vice president, LMSA“Hispanic Heritage Month is so important for me because it reminds me of my parents and what they’ve sacrificed for me to be here. As a future physician, seeing the discrepancies in healthcare pushes me to work harder for the Latinx community. I wanted to be a part of LMSA both to meet students with a similar background and to help ensure nearby communities have what they need. LMSA also allows me to connect with non-Latinx students and share with them ways that they can become allies. The ‘Ethics of Medical Deportation’ webinar was eye opening for students who may not be in the Latinx community. They could see the tragedies that exist in healthcare and how it impacts families in the Latinx world.”

Camila Salazar Meneses (DO ’23) community service co-chair, LMSA

Camila Salazar Meneses (DO ’23) community service co-chair, LMSA“LMSA is very important to me because it’s a safe space on campus for Latinx students to have conversations about what’s happening in our community. LMSA helped me find other students who’ve had a similar upbringing to mine. I also find LMSA very motivating in my career and seeing my peers and I work hard to grow our LMSA chapter inspires me to continue in this path. I look forward to planning these events because they focus on real-world issues that we can often overlook as we focus so intensely on our studies. LMSA is a space for me to advocate for my future patients and my community. As a medical student, feeling like we’re being celebrated and validated is so important. LMSA is very valuable both for mental health and to celebrate our heritage.

As the organizer of the ‘Ethics of Medical Deportation’ virtual community conversation, I felt it was very important to bring light to this issue. We had a guest from the community come to speak about her first-hand experience with medical deportation. This was very important because participants could speak with a source directly to hear the changes that need to be made. As future physicians, we can’t assume what our patients need from us, we need to speak with them to see how we can help.”

Between September 15 and October 15, LMSA hosted the following events:

Held in collaboration with other medical and graduate schools across the Philadelphia area including Drexel, Temple, and Jefferson, this virtual event was an opportunity for students to practice their Spanish speaking skills with other students at a beginner, intermediate or advanced Spanish level.

“Bridging the Gaps Between Physicians and Latinx Patients”
Sarah Wilson, DO ’08

“Journey and Experience as a Latino Physician”
Veronica Contreras, DO, Dr. Contreras spoke on her journey as a first-generation and Latina in medicine. Dr. Contreras is an Ecuadorian osteopathic physician practicing in Southern California.

“The Ethics of Medical Deportation”
Featuring guests from the Free Migration Project, a Philadelphia non-profit organization that represents immigrant clients in their legal proceedings, provides legal support and advocates for fair and open immigration laws. Over 120 students from all three PCOM campuses attended this speaker event and discussion session.

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