This year was my third year going to the Student National Medical Association’s (SNMA) Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC). SNMA is a national organization with many local chapters that exists to support minority medical students, providing mentorship from premed to physician as well as leadership opportunities/training to potentially open doors that would otherwise be closed. I always leave this conference feeling so inspired by all of the amazing people I meet–physicians and physicians-to-be. Everyone is looking out for your best interest, trying to plug you in to the right people you need to advance your career. The sessions are so enriching and cover a wide variety of topics from increasing diversity in medical school to birthing simulations to getting into medical school and navigating the MATCH. It’s impossible for you to go and not find something for you.
For me as a third year medical student starting to create my list of potential residency programs, I spent most of my conference time at the residency exhibition. Each year over 100 residency programs are represented. Programs specifically recruit from this conference because they are looking to increase or maintain the diversity of their programs. It’s extremely important to me that I attend a residency program that doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to diversity (I define diversity as African American and Hispanic populations). I need to see it in the previous residency classes and, although rarer, in the faculty. I need to know that I will be welcomed and supported by whatever program I end up at, and not feel like an outsider. So when a program makes the effort to show up at AMEC, I give them much more consideration.
The best part of this conference that blows my mind every time is how down to earth everyone is! I’ll be sitting at a table with dermatology residents and future neurosurgeons, and we’ll be cracking jokes and rapping the lyrics of trap music. It never ceases to amaze me every time! It reminds me to never lose that side of me even when I start making real money and get more status. I’m also reminded to never stop pouring into those coming after me. People who just matched at their dream programs were offering me a place to stay for future interviews. The family is just so real. Anyone could easily get caught up in all of the hype of being a doctor, but that just doesn’t seem to happen in SNMA. Everyone is approachable and has a hand extended to you.
This years conference was in San Fransisco, CA. This was my first time on the west coast! I had so much fun being a tourist during my down time. I saw the Golden Gate Bridge, had some delicious Ramen noodles (which SF is apparently known for), and went to the pier where there was a huge farmers market. I was also able to meet up with one of my cousins I haven’t seen since I was in Nigeria at the end of 2015. The whole vibe of the city is super chill and I got a more genuine vibe from people than I expected being in California. So overall it was an absolute blast! I made a lot of new contacts and expanded my network. I’m excited to watch the success of everyone & reunite again at next years conference in Philly!