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Annual NYMedTalks Event Focuses on Medicine in the Age of COVID-19

SOM students got valuable insight from a diverse group of health care leaders for what to expect in the future.

April 04, 2022
Annual NYMedTalks

“Since this year’s conference was the first one since life began to return to some semblance of normalcy and familiarity for many around the world, we wanted to pay tribute to how far medicine and medical practice have come in the past two years,” said Ankita Jain, SOM Class of 2025, who organized the conference, along with Doria Weiss, Eseiwi Aifuwa, Harry Haran and Miriam Katz, also members of the SOM Class of 2025. “We chose to invite guest speakers whose work was either impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or whose work has helped the medical community better deliver healthcare to patients through lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Originally called Student Physician Awareness Day, NYMedTalks began at NYMC in 1986, as the inspiration of Eileen Dieck, M.D. ’86, who was the president of the Student Senate at the time. The goal of the annual event is to expose students to work in the healthcare professions to topics outside of their academic curriculum. Past topics have included: access and excess in health care; intersection of medicine in society; success through adversity; and health and technology in the future.

“Although many of us have planned events before, having free reign for the direction we wanted to take NYMedTalks in was exciting but daunting at the same time,” said Mr. Haran. “Working through the process of selecting speakers, organizing the format and keeping an open line of communication between multiple campus resources made us realize how well we can work together with a common goal. It was not sunshine and rainbows all the time of course, but challenges allowed us to become more creative and, in the end, we were able to construct an event starting from nothing to something we are all incredibly proud of. Additionally, I think it also helped develop our relationship with many of the faculty and staff, who were incredibly supportive during the process.”

With topics ranging from the future of healthcare and extended reality in health and education, to neurosurgery and global health equity and using grit, flow and mindfulness to achieve peak performance and stress reduction, speakers at this year’s event included Beth Drzewiecki, M.D. ’05, chief of pediatric urology at Tufts Medical Center; Gary Soffer M.D., director of the integrative medicine program and assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at Yale New Haven Hospital; Angela Fusaro, M.D. ’09, M.B.A., chief executive officer of Physician 360; Kimberly Hieftje, Ph.D., M.S., director, play4REAL Lab and Yale Center for Health and Learning Games and assistant professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine; Ernest Barthélemy, M.D., M.A., M.P.H., neurotrauma fellow at University of California San Francisco; and John Boockvar, M.D., vice chair and professor of neurosurgery and director of the Brain Tumor Center and Pituitary/Neuroendocrine Center at Lenox Hill Hospital.

“NYMedTalks provides a unique opportunity for students to be inspired by world-class leaders in medicine who have thought outside the box and pioneered a new paradigm of healthcare in a variety of different fields,” said Ms. Weiss.  “From an alum creating a successful business that reimagined urgent care to a neurosurgeon driven to advance neurological care and mental health in Haitian communities, the speakers exemplified the impact that physicians can have across the world. NYMedTalks allows students to look forward into our future careers as emerging physicians and see what can be possible, recognizing that each of these speakers started in our shoes.”

The day concluded with a specialty fair in which students could choose to visit various breakout rooms in which NYMC faculty from across a wide variety of medical specialties and subspecialties shared their career insight into their various disciplines.“

As an organizer for NYMedTalks, I had the opportunity to form relationships with so many potential mentors,” said Mr. Aifuwa. “Likewise, it was important for me to provide our classmates with insights into the challenges and joys that a career in medicine requires. I believe NYMedTalks was a transformative experience, and, judging by the kind words our classmates have used to describe the event, the NYMC community believes so as well.”