Monday, January 30, 2006


As you may know, they originally picked us as guest bloggers (some of you dedicated fans may have noticed the slight change in format), perhaps because we were involved in a lot of activities. And maybe they had some space constraints. At any rate, it became clear once we tried to schedule everything that we all had way to many things to write about to only submit three or four blogs per person. Hence, the change in format and upgrade to "regular blogger."

Today's topic is near and dear to my heart. After spending my undergrad years working toward a Spanish degree, I was a little afraid that I'd be forced to abandon it during medical school. Some of that has come true, which saddens me slightly. While I was invited to sit in on several of my professors' classes this semester (I did my undergrad here...), none of them really fit with the anatomy/histology schedule (lots of afternoons) or the lecture schedule (lots of mornings). As such, it seems like my days of analyzing literature from South and Central America are over, at least for now. I think that's part of why it's been so difficult to transition from undergrad to medical school. All during undergrad, I had two very different foci. I had my cellular and molecular biology degree, which took up about half my schedule, depending on the semester, and a Spanish degree, which filled the other half. Between the two of them, there was always something drastically different I could work on to keep myself sane. Now there is much less variation: if I'm sick of GI anatomy, I have only GI physiology or GI biochemistry to select from. I think it makes it easier to get burned out more quickly and makes getting involved extracurricularly really, really important.

Which brings me to today's topic: LANAMA. The Latin American and Native American Medical Association hasn't been the Spanish-language literature discussion group that I secretely hoped it would be before our meetings started, but it has provided me with some fabulous opportunities. Now, you may be thinking "that girl doesn't look very Latina to me." I struggled with the same issues: I'm not Latina, I just love Latina health issues and am passionate about working on them. And as the argument goes, there aren't enough minority people in any group to work exclusively to fix every minority issue without allies from outside the community. So as much as I questioned my place in LANAMA for a while, I no longer wonder about the being part of the small but dedicated following of self-identified white folks. We all get together because we're dedicated to Latino or native health issues, which is something that seems to quite easily cross boundaries of race, gender, and age.

Apart from forcing me to think about some philosophical questions, LANAMA has also given me venues to practice my Spanish (and some of the members are working on a medical Spanish course, for which the pilot has already begun) and work with the community. At Festival Latino we did blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol screenings. It was great to get out and work with the community. Sometimes we get so caught up in textbooks and labs that we forget wat we're working for. Doing health-related outreach in the community is a great way to bring that back.

Going to lunchtime talks is another way to get outside the scope of the current sequence and learn about something new and different. The upcoming Minority Health Symposium should be just that. A number of different groups (including LANAMA) will be presenting speakers on different minority groups. I'll post more about it as it gets closer, but I'm looking forward to it.

Alright, I'm starting to feel like I'm rambling, so I'll sign off for today.

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