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LaShyra Nolen is pushing for change within Harvard Medical School. Heres what she wants you to know. – Boston.com

In the week after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, LaShyra Nolen was asked by her professors each day how she was doing.

To share how she was feeling, the first-year student at Harvard Medical School shared a poem on Twitter, explaining that she could no longer pretend to be okay. In her verses, she drew attention to the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color, systemic racism, and police brutality.

The truth is Black students are NOT okay, she wrote.

Nolen, who is the first Black woman to serve as student council president at the institution, is no stranger to advocating for social and racial justice. The Harvard student told Boston.com she believes it is her responsibility to make sure she uses her growing platform in the medical field to fight for health equity and to help tell the stories of communities whose voices are not being heard.

In June, Nolen announced she and her classmates had launched a petition to rename the Holmes Society at Harvard Medical School, named after Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., citing his promotion of eugenics and violence toward Black and Indigenous peoples.

The same month, the medical student had an essay published in the New England Journal of Medicine that laid out the need for increased representation of Black people and minority populations in medical training, providing examples from her own training.

In one, she noted that her CPR training used mannequins with white male bodies. In another instance, she recalled that during a discussion about Lyme disease in a microbiology class the professor showed photos from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the red bulls-eye rash on white skin, only noting that it is more difficult to see the rash on melanated skin in response to a students question.

If medical students and trainees are taught to recognize symptoms of disease in only white patients and learn to perform lifesaving maneuvers on only male-bodied mannequins, medical educators may be unwittingly contributing to health disparities instead of mitigating them, Nolen wrote.

The California native said she knew since she was in third grade that she wanted to be a doctor, but her dedication and interest in addressing inequities stems from when she moved from Compton to the suburb of Rancho Cucamonga at the age of 10.

It was a completely different life, she said.

The roads were different, the access to basic needs everything was just so plentiful, and that was so different from my experience in Compton and in L.A. she said. That was when I really started to think about differences and race.

She continued to question the disparities she saw between the suburb where she lived, which was predominantly white, and her old neighborhood, which was predominantly Black and Latinx. Those questions took on another layer of urgency when she was 15 and a family member passed away from what she called a preventable death, from complications of obesity and diabetes.

It wasnt until she got to college and learned about the social determinants of health that she began to be able to articulate what shed grown up witnessing, she said.

I started to get a lexicon for all these different things that Id experienced in my childhood, Nolen said. Why we have these differences, how those differences then go on to impact your health, how that impacted my family. All of those things came together, and that is what really inspires my passion because Ive seen it personally. I still continue to see it.

Below, Nolen speaks more about the importance of activism in health care and the changes she hopes to see occur in medical institutions to address systemic racism.

The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Boston.com: The country is now in a moment of addressing two public health crises COVID-19 and racism. How does it feel to be a medical student right now, and what concerns do you have as efforts to address these two crises move forward?

LaShyra Nolen: Its such an interesting time to be a medical student, and I think its an especially interesting time to be a medical student at Harvard. Because here I am getting this amazing education Im learning about ace-inhibitors, Im learning about the pathophysiology of COVID-19. But even if I get the best education, even if I become the best surgeon, theres still a huge possibility that my patient could walk outside of the clinic and be stopped by a police officer. And if they move too quickly, they might end up losing their life. Or, its very possible that my patient will go back to a community where they dont have access to the basic needs that they need to live out a healthy life.

I think those are the conversations that were starting to finally have. Because it doesnt matter how good medicine gets at finding cures and doing research and pushing the envelope in the biomedical realm, [if] theres still going to be systemic inequity in our society.

If we dont address that, then were never really going to be able to help our patients have the best outcomes that they deserve. As a medical student, Im learning all this science, which is so key for treating your patients. But theres also work that needs to be done outside the clinic it cant stop there.

What were you hoping people would take away from the poem you shared on Twitter, and what was the response that you received after you shared it?

That poem came from a place of all of this turmoil around us being laid to bare. In one context, we have this global pandemic, COVID-19, ravaging through Black communities, Latinx communities, indigenous communities. Then concurrently we have this other pandemic that weve always known to exist systemic racism.

Were seeing so many Black peoples lives being taken on screens, being shown across the country, across the globe. And I was expected to come to class, and I was expected to pretend that everyone was OK. I was expected to just learn the pathophysiology, recite the things that I had studied the night before. That isnt just an experience of medical students its the experience of all Black professionals and all Black students. We have to separate our Blackness from our experience as students and professionals so often. And that was me just saying, Im not OK, and instead of you asking if Im OK, I want you to educate yourself and learn about why Im not OK and make sure that you arent complicit in the system that is contributing to the reason why Im not OK.

Thats really where that came from, and the response that I got from it was really positive. What always surprises me when I speak out is how much feedback Ill get from people who are higher up in the medical hierarchy. Residents and folks who are professors, and they say, Thank you for saying that. Because they dont have the space to say that and be vulnerable and feel comfortable and feel like their jobs arent going to be jeopardy if they say, Hey, Im not doing OK, and, You guys really need to address these issues that were experiencing. It just goes to show how the hierarchy of academic medicine can be harmful.

What do you see as the responsibility you and medical professionals have when it comes to activism? What role do you think doctors or health care professionals should be taking on when it comes to advocacy and social justice, and why do you think its important they are involved?

I think its extremely important. Number one, because I think physicians and health care providers should care about all things that affect their patients health. There have been numerous studies that have come out and shown that access to housing, access to education, access to basic human needs are what folks need to have the best health outcomes. All of that is so inextricably connected to sociology and history and psychology.

We cant continue to just stay in the realm of medicine, because our world gets the benefits from medicine. Almost 20 percent of our GDP comes from health care spending and costs. So we cant just pretend that medicine isnt a political issue, or that its completely separate. Its extremely important for us to not just stay in this lane of medicine because thats just the beginning. When we give the patient the medicine, we have to make sure that theyre able to afford it, we have to make sure that the pill bottle is in the correct language for them to understand, we have to make sure that theyre able to have transportation to get to the clinic. Its so important that we engage in activism because its going to be a huge part of maintaining our patients health and thats essentially what were supposed to be doing as healers.

Given the petition to rename the Holmes Society and your piece in the NEJM, can you speak more to the importance of health professionals addressing institutionalized racism within the institution of medicine and how that can be done?

These are the perfect examples of two buckets that I view advocacy and activism in. One bucket is the inward facing activism. The Holmes Society changing its name is an example of that, because here we have this society where students go to learn, students go to build relationships and form some of their fondest memories of medical school. But the namesake of this institution is someone who was a eugenist, someone who was known to be racist and was actively violent with their words towards indigenous and Black communities. When we have an individual like that representing this space thats supposed to be so wholesome and a safe haven, that can be really dangerous. That work needs to be done so that students of color Black students, indigenous students, Lantinx students can thrive and feel comfortable in these spaces. We cant continue to just recruit students of color and then not protect them when they get to these institutions. Protection goes beyond just evaluations and making sure that they feel like they can thrive academically and arent experiencing micro-aggressions. Its, Who are the people on our walls? How are we allowing violence to be perpetuated silently by who we allow to take up space in these institutions? That is why changing the name of Holmes is so important.

The New England Journal of Medicine piece came out of this idea of more outward facing activism. Even though its a change that needs to happen within the medical institution, if were graduating physicians who dont even know how to recognize key symptoms in patients of color or if we dont graduate physicians who understand the nuance of doing CPR on a person with breasts the fact that you have to take off that persons shirt and how uncomfortable that might be for that individual and talking about issues of consent its just so much more nuanced to the different things were learning. But we just ignore it. They call it the reference man we always use men as the reference, particularly white men. Thats so problematic because that can go on to perpetuate health disparities in the communities that we seek to serve.

If were going to be institutions that are mission-driven and we want to increase diversity within our medical school and we want to help mitigate health disparities, we have to look at the small insidious ways that we might be actually doing more harm than good. The worst part is that often Black students, the marginalized student, is often the person that has to put themselves out there to ask that question. And I think that in itself is a really big issue because why is that my non-Black peers didnt raise their hands and say, Hey, how would I recognize this in a patient with darker skin? Because those are going to be their patients, too. Thats the direction we have to move in this antiracist movement it shouldnt be that its always the responsibility of the marginalized person to stand up for the marginalized group. It should be a collective effort that we all value the humanity of all patients. And I really hope thats the direction that we go in.

In a speech last August, you addressed young Black girls, saying You cant be what you cant see when it comes to diversity in medicine. Can you speak to more of what you meant when you said that medicine will not progress without the diversity of having young Black women going into the field, and what changes do you want to see taken to ensure theres greater diversity?

I think it will play a very important role in the future. I personally did not see a Black doctor until the summer of my freshman year of college. I had gone through my entire life with this dream of becoming a doctor, and the reason why that dream was kept alive is because I had a grandmother and a mother who believed in me endlessly, even though they had never necessarily seen a Black doctor before. They just believed in me and they just breathed life into my dreams, but it wasnt until I saw that Black doctor that it all clicked, and I said, OK, it seems like its possible to actually achieve this dream. We have to start exposing youth to the sciences early on, and beyond just exposing youth to the sciences, we also have to mitigate the different forms of structural racism that are embedded in society. We have to think about, How is that when I build a new building for my medical school, that Im then taking tax revenue away from the city? And then, How is that going to affect how schools are able to invest in educational programs? We have to think about how we as institutions are complicit in systemic racism beyond just having these pipeline programs. We have to have a two-fold approach to addressing this issue of representation, but then also making sure that were doing the work to mitigate systemic racism.

Is there anything else you want to say or want people to know?

Antiracism has to be an every day, every moment work. It cant be something that only lasts this summer, it cant be something that only lasts in 2020. It has to be something that people are actively engaging in every moment of their life, because racism is so deeply embedded into the fabric of America and into the fabric of our everyday lives that we dont even realize it. Therere many different ways people can mitigate this, but its going to happen through uncomfortable conversations, speaking out against the ways that systemic racism has silently been able to fester in our academic environments, among other things. This work is uncomfortable and its ongoing, and we should never stop.

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LaShyra Nolen is pushing for change within Harvard Medical School. Heres what she wants you to know. - Boston.com

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Let COVID spark a new drive to expand medical education – ModernHealthcare.com

The crisis the American people confronted on Oct. 4, 1957, seems almost quaint by current standards: Our Cold War nemesis, the Soviet Union, had launched an artificial satellite into low-earth orbit. The beach ball-sized object, known as Sputnik 1, exposed a purported technology gap between the Western powers and our Communist adversary.

The U.S. responded neither with despair nor confrontation. Rather, the event proved a mainspring for an extraordinary investment in science and technology, transforming school curricula and leading to low-cost loans for STEM students through the National Defense Education Act.

Sputnik I also inspired a generation of young men and women to pursue careers in space technology and related fields. Watching the satellite cross the West Virginia sky propelled future Rocket Boys author Homer Hickam to a job as a NASA engineer; the event drove Alan Shepard, the first American in space, to become an astronaut.

Americans today face a grave crisis in COVID-19. Yet as thousands of healthcare workers serve on the front lines, fighting the virus and caring for their fellow citizens, we have an opportunity to make this pandemic our Sputnik I.

Despite increases in medical school applications and leaps in therapeutic offerings, perceptions of the medical profession have been in decline for some time. A 2014 study by Robert Blendon and colleagues found that only 58% of Americans agreed with the statement, "All things considered, doctors in the United States can be trusted." That compared with 76% in Great Britain and 75% in France. Increasingly, the burdens of electronic documentation and lost autonomy have thinned the ranks of physicians and scared away would-be replacements. If that were not deterrent enough, the average medical school graduate now carries more than $200,000 in debt.

COVID-19 may change some of those perceptions. In New York City, physicians have been cheered the way first responders were hailed after 9/11. Should we be fortunate, this newfound appreciation will prove the first step toward recruiting a future generation of passionate researchers and clinicians.

But inspiration is not enough. If our society is to make the most of this challenging moment, we must re-envision the healthcare workforce. Community buy-in for public health measures is essential during a crisis. Having a physician to whom one can relate is just as crucial for optimal care in non-pandemic times. This is best achieved through a diverse corps of physicians whose backgrounds and experiences reflect those of the broader population.

We are not there yet. For example, Black men have suffered disproportionate mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the total number of self-identified Black males entering U.S. medical schools last year was 604. Other underrepresented groups include first-generation college students, those from low-income backgrounds, Latinos, Native Americans and veterans. Children of blue-collar workers, single parents, and the disabled still face counterproductive barriers to entry.

Several marquee medical schools now offer free tuition, while others cap debt. That is a step toward equity. However, this approach largely helps candidates already in the pipeline.

What is needed are free post-baccalaureate programs for highly talented individuals who did not have a meaningful chance to pursue science education in high school or college so they can complete the preliminary coursework necessary to apply. Alternative pathways to entry are also essential: linkage programs that guarantee admission to "career changers" as long as they meet certain academic benchmarks. Low-income students giving up stable jobs to pursue pre-med courses should know that there is place for them in a medical school class if they succeed.

Finally, the country desperately needs more medical schools. At present, the number of seats for students is set artificially low, which in turn generates higher reimbursement for doctors. Yet the patient demand, especially in primary care, continues to grow. In essence, in a world of markets, doctors belong to a medieval guild. Why not let anyone capable of practicing first-class medicine join the field?

Much as Sputnik I transformed American scienceultimately leading to the first human steps on the moonmedicine is ready for its own moon landing. Let us make this the positive legacy of the current tragedy.

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Let COVID spark a new drive to expand medical education - ModernHealthcare.com

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USD Medical School and Partners Win Grant to Expand Services to Prevent Sexual Assault in Western South Dakota – Yankton Daily Press

VERMILLION The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault (The Network) and a collection of partners have been awarded a $1.3 million grant to expand services related to preventing and responding to sexual assault and sex trafficking in rural, western South Dakota.

Bridget Diamond-Welch, Ph.D., a research scientist for the USD Sanford School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine, said the impetus for the grant is the anticipated arrival of workers to rural and remote areas of South Dakota to build the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The development of so-called man-camps along the route of the pipeline and during its construction will deliver thousands of workers to western South Dakota, said Diamond-Welch. These sorts of projects have caused a rise in sexual assaults and sex trafficking in other states. Right now, medical facilities and expert counseling and response for victims of sexual assault, trafficking and other related problems are not conveniently available along the pipeline route in western South Dakota. We want to be prepared if the oil pipeline and those camps are built and if services are needed.

According to Diamond-Welch, Native American reservations and rural areas are already stretched thin as they work to meet the needs of victims, including Indigenous people.

We are really excited to work withour state and tribal partners with this grant funding to provide Native American sexual assault survivors in the pipeline area with access to sexual assault services and trauma-informed and patient-centered sexual assault forensic-medical exams, said Krista Heeren-Graber, executive director of The Network.

Specific objectives of the grant will be to expand counseling, safety planning, legal and victim advocacy and trauma-informed and patient-centered sexual assault forensic-medical exams. Specially trained advocates and experts will be hired as part of the grant.

Key on-the-ground members of The Network participating in the expansion of services are Communities Against Violence and Abuse (Lemmon), Missouri Shores DV Center (Pierre), Missouri Valley Crisis Center (Chamberlain), Sacred Heart Center (Eagle Butte), Sacred Shawl Society (Martin), Victims of Violence Intervention Program (Spearfish), White Buffalo Calf Womans Society (Mission), Winyan Wicayunihan Oyanke/Where all Women are Honored (Rapid City), and the Winner Resource Center (Winner).

The grant will be administered by The Network and funding will cover three years of effort.

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USD Medical School and Partners Win Grant to Expand Services to Prevent Sexual Assault in Western South Dakota - Yankton Daily Press

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Coronavirus pandemic: Updates from around the world – CNN

As coronavirus cases in Arizona continue to surge, Mayor Kate Gallego says Phoenix is facing a huge testing shortage.

People have been in line foreight hours in a hot car whilethey ache, waiting for a test," she said."We are five months in in theUnited States of America.People who want a test shouldnot have to wait that long."

Gallego says there is a need for low-barrier testing. She requested the federal government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for mass testing sites in Phoenix, but that request has been denied.

William Haseltine, a former Harvard Medical School professor, claimed that Arizona is implementing a crisis standard of care, which means, if you're old, youget sent home without care andyou die.

Unfortunately, our medicalprofessionals don't have theresources they need and so theyare being asked to makedifficult decisions, Gallego said, responding to Haseltines comments. She emphasized that people experiencing emergency conditions such as a heart attack should still go to the emergency room and that they will receive care.

Medical professionals are exhausted and asking for reinforcements, while warning that the worst is yet to come, Gallego says.

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Coronavirus pandemic: Updates from around the world - CNN

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Sidelined by coronavirus, these med students found a way to help the helpers – WHYY

Since April, Zheng has met three times a week with 9-year-old Addie, the daughter of two doctors. Theyve kept a journal together, started their own book club, and bonded over shared interests.

We both love baking, Zheng said. We talk about baking a lot.

Addies mom, Dr. Hana Choe, said that when schools first closed she was really at a loss for how to keep her two kids focused academically.

And when this tutoring program came out I thought it was genius, Choe said.

Justine Garfinkel, a rising second-year student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), has been working with the daughter of a nurse. Theyve been tackling fractions together and talking about their shared love of Nancy Drew novels.

It was just a small way for me to feel like I was at least doing something to help someone, Garfinkel said.

This version of the tutoring program is temporary, but it has catalyzed the push for an expanded, permanent effort.

Hayoung Youn a Temple medical student who organized the initial tutoring program in the wake of the pandemic co-founded a new group with Garfinkel and a long-time Philly principal for students in the city who are at risk of dropping out.

Called RISE, the program will partner with the School District of Philadelphia and draw from a larger pool of tutors any postsecondary student in the Philadelphia area.

In the short-term, Garfinkel said, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the families of frontline medical workers. Long-term, though, she believes children from low-income families will suffer most from the economic fallout caused by the virus and the instruction missed when school buildings shuttered. And thats where they think their tutoring muscle will be most needed when school returns in the fall.

The last few months have helped the group understand what works as they prepare to shift gears.

For Dr. Maura Sammons son Kaes, tutoring sessions became a chance to combat some of the isolation caused by the sudden end of in-person school.

It was really the bright point of his day, said Sammon.

The relationship between Kaes and his tutor, Temple medical student Vipin Dulam, started with academics. But soon they were chatting about the virus and video games and whatever else came up during their thrice-weekly sessions.

Originally, I think he was more motivated because his mom said theres a tutor you gotta do it, said Dulam. Then later I think he was looking forward to it specifically because he got a chance to talk with somebody.

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Sidelined by coronavirus, these med students found a way to help the helpers - WHYY

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There’s something about Sara: A scholarship from a Williamsburg couple will benefit the community – WYDaily

Sara Worril.(WYDaily/Courtesy of Williamsburg Community Foundation)

Sara Worrill will embark on her journey toward becoming a physician with the intent of taking her knowledge back to Williamsburg to practice.

In just a few weeks shell pack her belongings and make the drive to Blacksburg.

Indeed, shes not the only one who will venture off to college to pursue a career, but theres a local significance here.

You see, Worrills journey is made possible in part thanks to the generosity of a Williamsburg couple who chose to leave a generous bequest creating a medical school scholarship for students who intend to practice in the Williamsburg area.

Shes the first student ever to receive the Perisie Scholarship in Memory of James P. and H. Bihin Perisie. It will almost entirely cover the cost, and is renewable as long as the student maintains full-time status and is in good standing.

Heres more information about the scholarship.

The scholarship fund is managed by the Williamsburg Community Foundation.

A 2019 graduate of Old Dominion University, Worrill majored in Biochemistry and Psychology, according to a news release from the foundation.

She has worked as a volunteer scribe at Lackey Clinic, where she got to observe both general medicine and specialists in action while taking notes during patient visits.

Worrill is currently working as a medical assistant at M.D. Express Urgent Care. She will begin med school this fall at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.

My mom is actually a D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) so Ive known about osteopathic medicine my whole life, Worrill said. I have always appreciated the holistic approach to medicine. After volunteering with Lackey Free Clinic, I realized that I have a passion for serving the medically underserved, so I connected with the schools mission right away. I was also drawn to their international outreach program which has medical clinics in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Honduras.

She did not grow up in Williamsburg but said she loves the community and is looking forward to returning to practice here.

Worrill said she hopes to do some rotations with Riverside Health System during her med school residency program.

I plan on graduating in May of 2024, pursuing a career in primary care as a physician she said. I plan to use the knowledge, skills, and expertise gained during my time at VCOM to contribute to the medical community in the James City County area after graduation.

Williamsburg Community Foundation is able to assist residents who would like to create a scholarship fund.

There are many options such as creating a one-time award of $1,000 or more for local students through the WJCC Scholarship Fund, or creating an endowed scholarship with specific criteria.

For more information, contact the foundation at 757-259-1660, or email office@williamsburgcommunityfoundation.org. A complete list of the foundations scholarship opportunities can be found on the foundations website.

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There's something about Sara: A scholarship from a Williamsburg couple will benefit the community - WYDaily

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