More than 100 medical and pre-medical students from throughout New England gathered at the Larner College of Medicine on November 10–11 for the Region VII Medical Education Conference (RMEC), hosted by the University of Vermont’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA). The event marked the first SNMA conference hosted by UVM. The conference theme, “Uplifting Voices: Celebrating Diversity in Medicine,” reflected SNMA members’ passion for ensuring that people from populations underrepresented in the profession of medicine are empowered to pursue medical careers.
Larner Class of 2026 medical students Emmanuel “Manny” Ogunlana and Meron Yishak, co-presidents of SNMA at UVM, served as conference chairs, working alongside their SNMA executive board colleagues and fellow Class of 2026 students Adama Aja, Jacquelyn Ferguson, Shani Legore, and Ian Minearo. They organized a robust program of speakers and workshops along with a research poster forum, mentoring session for high school students, and community service project with the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington. Yishak and Ogunlana gave opening remarks.
“Although we might all come from different institutions and different backgrounds, what unites us is SNMA in our mission of diversifying the face of medicine and providing equitable care to all," Yishak said.
Margaret Tandoh, M.D., FACS, associate professor of surgery and associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, welcomed attendees at a dinner on Friday evening at the UVM Alumni House. Tandoh described the history of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at UVM’s medical college, highlighting recent such advancements as pathway programs for pre-medical students, holistic admissions and residency applications processes, and nurturing minority faculty. She also described efforts to address the needs of underserved communities and increase the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians, emphasizing that “health cannot exist where justice does not prevail."