The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) was established because of a need to produce competent and compassionate physicians to serve minority and indigent communities. These communities suffer from illnesses and deprivations that are both appalling and unacceptable in comparison to the majority community. SNMA was founded to foster within minority students an obligation to excellence and to produce quality health care teams armed with the knowledge, skill and insight to practice medicine within underserved communities.
In 1964, under the auspices of the National Medical Association, the SNMA Constitutions and By-laws were drafted and approved. In 1971, SNMA became a nationally independent, nonprofit corporation with fiscal integrity and financial autonomy. As a result of the increase in minority medical students between 1971 and 1975, the association gained increasing recognition by government, private industries and health organizations. During the mid to late 1970s, SNMA turned its efforts towards addressing health education and health-care issues while continuing the fight towards greater representation of minorities in health professions. The 1980s witnessed the expansion of the horizons of the SNMA to encompass academic medicine.
SNMA has three main levels of operation: The national office, 10 regional offices and more than 120 medical school chapter affiliates. The Board of Directors, elected by regional constituents, are responsible for the association’s corporate obligations. The House of Delegates, the highest governing body, is composed of representatives of the membership at large. They determine the direction and focus of the organization.
The founders of the Student National Medical Association established goals and purposes of the organization, as specified in Article II of its Constitution, to:
- Create an atmosphere wherein professional excellence and moral principles can find fullest expression;
- Disseminate information relevant to minority problems within the field of medical education;
- Take the necessary and proper steps to eradicate prejudicial practices in the field of medical education and related areas, as these practices are based on race, creed, color, sex or national origin;
- Develop workable programs or implement better urban and rural health care;
- Provide national leadership on the promulgation of legislative policies for the provision of better health care;
- Sponsor programs for minority youth to encourage their entrance into the health-care professions; and
- Raise the levels of minority student recruitment, admissions and retention in schools training health-care professionals.
For details, see www.snma.org.
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HIP Corps is the HIV/AIDS prevention education program of the Student National Medical Association and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The HIP Corps training manual is designed to educate volunteers on HIV intervention/prevention education and provides culturally sensitive information. The HIP Corps program is currently operating at 15 medical schools across the country. Penn State College of Medicine is the satellite site under Temple University College of Medicine, the official HIP Corps site for the region.
SNMA designed the program program to:
- Reduce the incidence of new HIV infection among underserved youth through the demonstration of an effective, culturally sensitive HIV/AIDS prevention education and community outreach program.
- Strengthen university and medical college infrastructure to provide culturally competent HIV/AIDS education and community service opportunities.
HIP Corps is targeted toward minority youth. CDC data reveal that HIV-related death has the greatest impact on young adults, particularly racial and ethnic minorities. HIV is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 25 and 44. Among African-American men and women in this age group, however, it is the leading cause of death. It is reported by the CDC that at half of the new HIV infections in the United States are among people under 25, and the majority of young people are infected sexually. Many young adults are apparently infected as teenagers. Of the initial 15 HIP Corps site locations, five (Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York) are among the top 10 metropolitan statistical areas reporting the highest number of AIDS cases.
HIP Corps volunteers may participate in informative sessions, where they teach about STDs and prevention to underserved youth and/or adults, or may help to plan additional events. All events are planned in order to help to correlate with the goals of HIP Corps:
- To ensure awareness about the increasing incidence of HIV in the area as well as delivery of culturally sensitive information.
- To administer an intervention in the surrounding community through service.
Target Group: Undergraduate pre-health students
Description: SNMA’s MAPS program offers guidance for undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers in medicine. Undergraduates are provided with information on how to choose a curriculum and how to excel academically. In addition, SNMA members work with undergraduates advising them about the medical school application process and the medical school admissions test. More importantly, SNMA members serve as mentors to undergraduate students, helping them successfully matriculate into medical school.
The College of Medicine SNMA chapter hosts an annual MAPS conference each summer, where participants have access to KAPLAN MCAT test prep courses and panel discussions related to medical school admissions and health disparities.
Those interested in forming MAPS chapters at an area undergraduate institution should email DiversityOutreach@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.
Target Group: Elementary-aged children
Description: YSEP is designed to motivate young students from backgrounds historically under-represented in health careers to think seriously about science. The hope is that YSEP will be one of the experiences that will positively influence their perception of science. Furthermore, SNMA hopes YSEP will influence its participants to consider a career in science.
Target Group: Underrepresented minority high school students (especially 11th- and 12th-graders)
Description: Further along the educational pipeline, SNMA’s HPREP program continues to expose high school students to science related activities. HPREP also teaches students about specific career fields and the steps needed to become a physician or other health care provider.