Mount Sinai serves a large Spanish-speaking patient population. This becomes very evident during your first two years at Mount Sinai on hospital rotations for the Art and Science of Medicine (ASM) clinical skills course and at EHHOP, the student-run clinic for patients without health insurance. Spanish language skills are extremely valuable in clinical medicine so two friends and I sought to create a way for students to learn medical Spanish. We first reached out to bilingual faculty members with the help of the Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs (CMCA) to conduct workshops on taking a medical history in Spanish. There was such strong student interest in these sessions that we decided to work on creating a full medical Spanish course. We were able to get funding from CMCA, the Alumni Association and outside foundations to hire professional Spanish teachers. We worked with the ASM directors to design a curriculum that paralleled the material of the clinical skills course and focused on teaching Spanish most necessary for the medical interview. Over the past 3 years, the Medicina en Español program has provided medical Spanish courses to over 200 students in the first and second year classes and is now fully funded by the medical school. We have also worked with the Morchand Center to create a standardized patient scenario in Spanish so that students can practice and receive feedback on their Spanish skills. The creation Medicina en Español is a great example of how Mount Sinai supports student initiatives.
The greatest gift that Mount Sinai has given me is the Global Health Center (GHC). There, I found a dedicated team of physicians with a real commitment to global health and an interest in mentoring students like me who hope to lead a career in the field one day. Dr. Natasha "Anu" Anandaraja has been my mentor, who helped me plan a trip to a rural hospital in India for 2 months during the summer after my first year. The GHC also provided funding, and helped me to secure a travel scholarship to finance the trip. On coming back, Anu helped me with my research, which—thanks in part to her mentorship—I will be presenting at a national conference this fall. I showed enthusiasm and commitment to a project, and the GHC helped me make it happen.
MSSM and NYC!
One of the great pleasures of living in New York is being able to step off of a busy street and into the serenity of Central Park. It is truly New York City's greatest asset. After class, I like to boulder Rat Rock or Worthless Boulder, play sports in the East Meadow or go for a jog around the reservoir. I can also be found fishing for striped bass with some of my classmates at many of the parks along the Hudson River.
Manhattan has always been known for its chic, high-end restaurants in and around downtown. Yet, I've found some of the best food in the city just a few blocks away in Spanish Harlem. No matter where you go to eat, each plate seems to be made with the same passion that fills the community.
At night, there is something for everybody in New York City. Right outside of Manhattan is the borough of Brooklyn whose young and artistic crowd has supported a growing music scene that has made the community one of my favorite hangouts.
Real World Experience
In the summer between first and second year, I was fortunate to find a project that combined my interests in global health, learning Spanish through immersion, traveling abroad, and working on a Masters thesis. I spent the summer in Honduras, a Central American country with a very high burden of injury, designing and implementing a trauma surveillance system for the Honduran Ministry of Health.
Working in Honduras' second largest public trauma center alongside students, faculty, and public health officials was the thrill of a lifetime and inspired my love for global health. Through collaborative resource assessment and remodeling of hospital charting we designed a substantial surveillance system that I was proud to help implement in the summer of 2006. Practically applying CDC and WHO guidelines to a public health need became my ideal educational experience. A love for the project drives me to continue working on it even during the clinical years, and I've gained wonderful mentors, colleagues, and friends in the process.
Mount Sinai imbues in its students values that prove priceless in both patient care and global health work: mutual respect, cultural exchange, thoughtful compassion, and scholarly collaboration. Thanks to Sinai, I feel prepared and am very excited for a future in the increasingly interconnected global health community.