LUCOM-SNMA hosts cultural event, reflects student doctor diversity
A medical school is a culture of its own, shaped around a dedication to higher learning and improving the health of human beings. Students at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM), however, wanted to take time to spotlight the diverse cultures that carried them into this pivotal phase of their education. LUCOM-Student National Medical Association (SNMA) recently hosted an evening that reflected and celebrated the cultural diversity within LUCOM and on Liberty’s campus.
With an array of flags representing over 15 countries, student doctors lined the main floor of the Center for Medical and Health Sciences with food and games each reflecting different heritages. “Our intent of the event was to recognize and build a bridge between cultures,” said Lawrenshey Charles, second year student-doctor and president of LUCOM-SNMA. “With more than 300 student doctors since beginning only a year ago, LUCOM students collectively represent nationalities from all over the world. The best part, we each have a desire to serve the underserved, which is what LUCOM-SNMA is all about.”
Ronnie B. Martin, D.O., dean of LUCOM, was asked to be the main speaker. “Honoring the cultures within our student body is incredibly important. We are not all the same under our skin. We are composed in large part by our heritage, our culture and our values. We hear the stories while growing up of the cultural values of our countries, ethnic relatives and history, we learn of heritage and family traditions that have shaped our lives, and while we share many of these aspects in common, our backgrounds make us unique. By embracing our diversity, and the cultures from around the world it represents, we expand not only our knowledge about people but our minds as well. Such growth makes us better physicians,” said Dr. Martin.
According to Candice Buckles, second year student-doctor and vice-president of LUCOM-SNMA, hosting a LUCOM-SNMA cultural event not only reflects the organization’s history but also shows the purpose. “SNMA is a pillar in supporting not only current, but future underrepresented minority student doctors. The organization addresses the needs of underserved communities and increases the number of clinically excellent, patient-centered physicians. As the Liberty chapter of SNMA, hosting this first annual cultural event is exciting.”
At the end of the event, Dr. Martin left the student doctors with a challenge. “As osteopathic physicians, it is our responsibility not just to understand different cultures, but to respect them and the values they bring to the individual patient. That’s how we identify with people, develop empathy and compassion and eventually becomes the foundation for helping them through our ministry of medical practice. What we do not understand, what we do not respect, we soon become fearful of. Fear breeds’ distrust, hate, resentment and a host of negative feelings and reactions. Part of the goal is to learn to not be fearful of each other…the rich diversity than composes the family of man…rather to embrace it. Doing so will bring honor the greatest physician; Jesus Christ.”