Hispanic Heritage Month: a chat with the Latino Medical Student Association

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from mid-September through mid-October. In this episode, two current students and officers of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) share their experiences during the MD program.

Episode 9 - Chat with the Latino Medical Student Association Transcript

Milena Garcia: Welcome back future Rossies. And thank you for joining us. This month we are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, and with me here today, who will be highlighting the Latino Medical Student Association is Angie Ossa, the president of the Association, and Rosario Zamora Aviles, the liaison of the organization. Thank you ladies, for joining us. Let's take a moment to have you introduce yourselves.

Angie Ossa: Hello, my name is Angie Ossa, I am a fifth semester student here at Ross. I have a bachelor's degree in science and technology from Canyon University in New Jersey, which is where I currently live. I worked as an EMT for four years before coming to Ross and now I'm serving as president of LSA in my last semester basic sciences.

Rosario Zamora: Hi, my name's Rosario Zamora Aviles. I'm from Puerto Rico, I did my undergrad at the University of Florida legal, my iOS, and I did a master's in medical science in the phones to health sciences university and I'm the elements, a lesson for this semester here at Ross.

Milena Garcia: And thank you both for joining us in this. I'm happy to have you here. Ross University School of Medicine works like a normal campus. So we do have several student organizations, we're going to be talking about the Latino medical student association today and you tell us what is the LMSA.

Angie Ossa: The LMSA is a sister organization here at Ross, which is a network of students, alumni and health professionals, whose mission is to promote the development of online students through social, cultural, educational and networking opportunities we aim to cultivate a sense of community diversity and support amongst peers by facilitating interactions and resources to improve the Latinx community medicine.

How has the Latino Medical Student Association Impacted the RUSM Community? 

Milena Garcia: How do you feel the organization has impacted the RUSM community?

Rosario Zamora: It has actually been great for me. My first semester I was one of the few people from Puerto Rico to go and just finding that there was a community that we could go to and just, you know, you hear people talking Spanish. And you don't know where are they from but you go to them and they help you and other semester, even though there are other semesters, they help you and they will tell you what to do or help you achieve what you want and they are Latino medical students Association. It's really that it's a community like Angie said, and it's really a family because even though we're from different cultures and we even do speak Spanish. Some of us and other just speak English. It doesn't matter if we have that little thing that make us and combine it all together and they really help us. In my case, one of my housemates wanted to learn Spanish. So every day I would teach her a word that she could use with her patients in the future because she wanted to bridge that gap and the Rossies really help us and the Latino community. The Student Association really helps that community grow.

What’s the Community Like for ESL Students?

Milena Garcia: That's wonderful. And I know that some of our students' first language is not English and I'm aware there's a program also for the ESL students right. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Rosario Zamora: Yeah ATL has a program that helps you understand how to go a little bit more fluently. When you're giving an interview to a patient because interviews are given in Spanish and sorry in English, but sometimes our minds kind of talking Spanish or were used to talking in Spanish at our houses. So that program actually helps you develop that quickness, and that decrease that delay that makes some students may have into transition and the translation in our brains.

Milena Garcia: Right, right, English is not my first language as well. So I understand how that goes. Angie, what are some of the events the LSA has held in the past?

Angie Ossa: We have done medical Spanish workshops, we have non clinical skills preparations, we have done many food events such as Taco Tuesday potlucks, which has been a hit in the areas and community because we love trying new cuisines, especially this semester in observance of the Hispanic Heritage Month. We're doing a Tik-Tok challenge. It's called pass the plate, in which we invited the whole RUSM community to show us a recipe on how to make a special dish from that country. We wanted to share a little bit from a big part of our culture. We have also had to adapt to the new online environment. And so we hold all of our events online. So we continue to engage your community by doing raffles and online challenges and things like that to keep everybody engaged.

Milena Garcia: I saw. In fact, I saw a couple recipes already being shared around. Should we expect to see more photos coming up soon here?

Rosario Zamora: Maybe or maybe some of those thoughts are there.

Milena Garcia: I'm gonna send you my home address, so you can send over some to me. Okay, lets hear a little bit more about yourselves. Angie, tell us a little bit more about you.

Angie Ossa: I was born and raised in Colombia. I moved to the US with my parents and my brother, when I was about 11 years old. It was a bit challenging at first, just to be able to adapt to the whole new culture, new language, new environment, but looking back now, It just was a great preparation to join the Ross experience. I grew up also like drawing, painting, playing a lot of sports, like basketball, track, volleyball, tennis, which also led me to a lot of injuries, but that fueled my passion for medicine.

Milena Garcia: Senorita Rosario, what's your story.

Rosario Zamora: Like I said, I was born here in Puerto Rico and I have been here mostly my whole life. I was diagnosed back when I was a little kid with an IV that's on a readable bowel disease and that really changed my life. It has to change completely. Diet, time with friends, how I went through school, how many times I went even to the bathroom. So it really made me change my life, turned it around completely. And that's when my spark for medicine started, because I was going to the doctor so much and having all these tests done and it really made me want to do a change and yeah, it really has been an amazing experience.

It was just a learning experience. My first try at medical school didn't work out as I planned. So I did that masters, to see if my relapse helped me go through medical school. If I could do it, you know,because of the hours and the studying and I could pass my masters and I applied to Ross. It was my second chance. And they gave me my second chance. And they have Panopto that really sold me on Ross because I could study from the comfort of my own house. In Cavalli I could wake up, go to the gym, eat breakfast, shower and sit and watch lectures and be on lectures or me until the time I wanted to and I had that time for that.

Milena Garcia: You mentioned Panopto. Can you explain to the listeners what Panopto is?

Rosario Zamora: Of course. Panopto is an online platform that Ross has that they record the professors and then an hour later, you have the lecture. Like, for example, the classes at seven.

Even though your classmates are at seven in the classroom, you can see it at eight and it really helps you maintain that balance and that lifestyle that sometimes medical students, we kind of need a break.

Milena Garcia: Angie. What about you, why Ross?

Angie Ossa: Once I graduated from undergrad I kind of wanted the field experience to see while working in the hospital and with patients will be like. So I also got my degree at an early age. And so I wanted to establish a foundation before embarking in this medical career. But before I realized that, four years had passed by. So working as an EMT, I kept building my passion for medicine and I just knew I had to take the leap. Ross was able to see my vision and they encouraged my dream of becoming a doctor. As a non medical traditional and non traditional medical student mom with my own timeline Ross gave me the opportunity to start my medical training.

How Supportive is RUSM to Diverse Communities?

Milena Garcia: And this is a pretty typical story. You both shared really typical stories from our applicants. Non traditional applicants or students who struggled with a medical condition at the undergrad level and just wasn't about to give up. And you have worked hard and win against society really right telling you know, and you're going to make it work no matter what it takes. Good for you. Kudos I recognize you both for working so hard in pursuing your dream Angie. How do you feel your program is going at Ross?

Angie Ossa: It has been a roller coaster. It has its ups and it's downs, I could say with certainty that I am well prepared for anything that life wants to throw at me. When I first joined Ross, I did the MERP program, which is an amazing experience that prepared me for what medical school will be like. One of my professors said that medical school was like drinking from a fire hydrant, and it couldn't have been any better. You have tons of information just being thrown at you and you're very thirsty to drink from the water fountain. But you don't know how to approach it, and you don't know how to take that water so you won't be able to drink it. But Russ provides you with tools that you can succeed. On for you to learn how to use those tools properly. So it has been a long process and learning how to use those tools and then at times. I also forget how to use them again. But then the roller coaster goes down, but it also goes back up. So the momentum just continues.

Milena Garcia: Good, good. That's good to hear. And for those of you listening. We did an episode on the MERP program separately. So make sure to check back. That is our post back program really good program, as you heard here, so make sure to check back and listen to that episode.

Milena Garcia:  What about you Rosario, how do you feel your program is going at Ross?

Rosario Zamora: I really think Angie nailed it to a tee. It's like a roller coaster. Some semesters, or even some tests you feel you're conquering the world. But then a class comes or SMS or even a test and you feel like you're done. And that you cannot do it, but Ross has the people to help you. ATL really helps and really helps you identify what maybe you're like lacking or what you did wrong for that test or even that semester and they help you practice questions and sessions for helping you be a better student, time management and they really help you. I went my first semester, just to see my calendar, how I plan to do my days were working and I remember at all that, hey, this is what I plan to do. This is what I want to do. Okay, and they helped me. Even though if I was succeeding in the test my first semester. My second semester, wasn't that good and I went again. And they told me. Maybe you're doing this different from your first semester, maybe you can incorporate more practice questions and they really helped. Because yeah, you feel sometimes you're going up, but there's downs too and those downs help you understand and be a better student. And at the end, be a better doctor

Milena Garcia: That's right, medical school is no walk in the park right or walk on the beach, we should say, pun intended. Angie. How do you feel Ross supports our lead to next students?

Angie Ossa: I feel like Ross has given us the opportunity to be independent and diverse by letting us create clubs and associations like elements. A in which we could sit, share all cultures and just support one another.

Milena Garcia: This idea. What's your plan for after residency?

Rosario Zamora: I would like to go into piece. And then do a fellow in pediatrics and then do a fellowship in gastroenterology and I would love to get back to the community and maybe not. I don't know if here in Puerto Rico, or maybe in the States, but at least to go to a place where I can help people in my community.

Milena Garcia: And you Angie. What's the plan?

Angie Ossa: I'm so into where I'm kind of open to go anywhere. I like the idea of new experiences and learning to adapt to new places. While at the same time, I want to be close to my family. So for what I want to arm, probably, I want to be on the move. So I like saying my toes so I like emergency medicine. I like trauma. I like surgery, though, something along those lines.

Milena Garcia: Well, I truly appreciate you both taking your time to share a little bit of your experience with us. I want to give you a chance to share some recommendations, also with our future Rossies.  Angie, anything you want to say?

Angie Ossa: I would say that Joe's Lee Ross elements as a club that welcomes everyone we want to be a bridge to unify cultures and communities. To learn from one in order to build each other up. I think that is what my culture as a Latinx has taught me and then no matter where you come from. You belong on that you will find support and love from all over the world. I want to be the support to others. And then we want to help people to get here to represent our communities to build up to make the gap smaller

What Advice Would You Give to Students Considering RUSM?

Milena Garcia: Rosario, any recommendations for our future Rossies?

Rosario Zamora: Take the LEAP! Do it if you're thinking about it, do it and apply to Ross, because it's gonna be life changing. It's really going to help you not only you, but your other students, you're gonna introduce them to a culture that they're maybe not used to and they're going to make them better doctors

Milena Garcia: Thank you, the leap. You heard it here, and everyone listening, if this is the right place for you in the right fit for you. Make sure to contact us. You can find us at medical.rossu.edu for more information. You can always reach out to me as well for any future questions recommendations. Let me know how we can help you pursue your dream as well. Ladies,muchas gracias. I appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us.