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NYMed Talks Focuses on Access and Excess in Health Care

Organized entirely by SOM students, the Seventh Annual NYMed Talks focused on the timely topic of access and excess in health care.

March 22, 2021
NYMedTalks 2021 back and white image with words reading: "Access and Excess in Healthcare"
NYMedTalks 2021

Roy Miller, SOM Class of 2024, also part of the NYMED Talks team explained, “I hoped that my peers became inspired by leaders and innovators in medicine to learn and take action. A diverse world requires diverse solutions and our keynote speakers each demonstrated unique approaches to combat problems in our healthcare system. As medical students and future physicians, we hold a responsibility to advocate for our future patients and diverse communities within which we practice.”

With topics ranging from telehealth and rural medicine and diversity and accessibility of health databases to current issues in health policy and racial inequities in science, medicine and substance abuse disorders, speakers at this year’s event included Katherine Blizinsky, Ph.D., policy director for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) All of Us Research Program; Irina Gelman, D.P.M., M.P.H., commissioner of health for Orange County, New York; Peter M. Rhee, M.D., professor of surgery at New York Medical College (NYMC) and section chief, of Trauma and Critical Care at Westchester Medical Center; Adam Block, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health in the NYMC School of Health Sciences and Practice; and Jean Lud Cadet, M.D., a psychiatrist in the Molecular Neuropsychiatry Research Brach at the NIH.

“Twenty-first-century physicians have a shared commitment to addressing health disparities, but because these disparities permeate into nearly all aspects of health care, the physicians of tomorrow can feel lost on how they can tangibly help make a dent in this issue,” says Medha Reddy, SOM Class of 2024. “I’m incredibly proud that NYMed Talks 2021 provided students with a range of role-models who were able to demonstrate that building a more equitable future in health care could begin with considering how to ensure recruitment endeavors can reach historically excluded populations, promoting candor when discussing mental health and wellbeing or speaking up when we notice injustices affecting our peers and patients.”

During a talk that particularly resonated with student attendees, Dr. Rhee, a retired U.S. Navy captain who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, shared how his experiences as a military physician prepared him to treat patients from a variety of backgrounds.

“When I first heard what our focus for NYMed Talks was going to be, my mind immediately went to the combat health care workers that serve in the military. Those brave men and women give medical care in the most remote parts of the world, dealing with violence and death every single day,” says Timothy J. Sullivan, SOM Class of 2024. “Dr. Rhee’s presentation showed everyone the true horrors of war and the violence that comes with it. From operating in the poorest conditions to working to save those within an inch of death, his insight left everyone in attendance in awe. Many students reached out to me after the presentation to thank me for inviting Dr. Rhee and requested his contact information.”

After each talk, attendees also had an opportunity to engage in a dialogue over Zoom with the speakers. “We received a lot of positive feedback from our peers and we were very pleased with the level of engagement between students and speakers throughout the day,” says Katherine Lo, SOM Class of 2024. “To me, it showed the high level of interest that medical students have in topics that may not be traditionally represented in our core classes. I am optimistic that these much-needed conversations about expanding health care access and addressing medical costs will continue to happen and result in a more socially conscious and patient-centered generation of physicians.”

“This year's topic really resonated with our team because it felt like it expanded and continued the conversation on health disparities that we face as a society,” says Christopher Hoke, SOM Class of 2024. “These talks brought to light that although we may be removed from populations afflicted by these disparities, many populations are being affected right in front of our faces and in our own communities. Being in a leadership position I constantly find myself looking towards people above me for direction and important points that I can use when I want to join in the conversation. Hearing from our speakers put all of the students who attended in a position of awareness and gave them tools for the next steps to being leaders themselves.”