Danielle Ward, OMS IV, (middle) participates in team building activities with fellow members of the Student National Medical Association.
A unique voice

First osteopathic medical student to lead the SNMA shares plans

“I am dedicated to actively breaking down as many barriers as possible,” writes Danielle Ward, OMS IV.

If someone would have told me 10 years ago I would be the first osteopathic student to become president of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), I would’ve thought they had lost their mind. I was struggling to make it through college and raising a baby in a rocky marriage. Back then, becoming a physician was a lifelong dream, but it felt like I was reaching for the impossible.

I wholeheartedly believe I wouldn’t be the medical student that I am today if it weren’t for the SNMA. The SNMA, a student-governed organization with over 7,000 members, supports underrepresented minority students, addresses the needs of underserved communities and increases the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians.

The SNMA provided me with the support, encouragement and resources to succeed in my journey toward becoming a physician. The SNMA incited my passion to continue the pursuit of medicine and dedicate myself to a life of service. It also allows me to connect with hundreds of individuals who look like me and have similar goals.

Danielle Ward, OMS IV, and one of her role models, Barbara Ross-Lee, DO. (Photo provided by Danielle Ward, OMS IV.)

I created my executive agenda for the 2017-2018 year with the desire to give back and make a way for those who come behind me. To address health care disparities within our communities and to enhance and develop our membership, I hope to lead SNMA specifically in:

  • Providing membership with community service opportunities in rural and inner city areas, as well as Indian reservations, through mission trips to underserved communities and building partnerships with organizations such as the Student Osteopathic Medical Association.
  • Engaging and providing resources to our students from various ethnic backgrounds through webinars, community programming, and social media outlets.
  • Expanding the Pre-Medical Minority Enrichment and Development programming to include the unique skillsets of non-traditional students.
Danielle Ward, OMS IV, and one of her role models, John Sealey, DO, FACOS. (Photo provided by Danielle Ward, OMS IV.)

As a non-traditional student and a single mother, I understand firsthand why the SNMA should provide support to premeds as they go through the process of making it through college, taking gap years and applying to medical school. My agenda reflects this.

As an underrepresented minority and future osteopathic physician, I am thankful for the opportunity to use my platform as a voice for both groups in medicine. There remains a lack of diversity in health care professions across the nation, which makes it nearly impossible to provide the best culturally competent care to underrepresented minority patient populations.

I also recognize the need to support the diversity of the SNMA on a level that goes beyond race to promote community service and enhance partnerships with other organizations committed to doing the same. Osteopathic medicine continues to gain more recognition across the nation with the single GME accreditation system. My involvement with the SNMA will hopefully show the greater medical profession the unique skillset of osteopathic medical students, and it will show the SNMA’s dedication to making sure all of its members succeed.

I am dedicated to actively breaking down as many barriers as possible. It is my hope that my work over the next year with the SNMA will help address some of these issues and pave the way for future generations of aspiring physicians. My agenda reflects all of this, and I am excited and humbled that there will be thousands of individuals actively working to carry out my vision.

6 comments

  1. What a wonderful thing to see!! When i was in medical school, the NMA (parent organization of SNMA) excluded DO’s from being qualified to join. This is real progress and wonderful! VERY proud of you!

  2. Danielle is a shiny star in the medical world! Proud to have had her as a student at GA-PCOM! I look forward to her graduation!!

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