The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC) has emerged as a cornerstone activity for the organization. Students and professionals gather once a year, with high anticipation, to attend a wide range of educational and networking events. The AMEC attracts students from all levels of medical education and is consistently the largest gathering of under-represented minority medical students at any time in any place in the country. Employing a pivotal theme unique to the given year, the AMEC program incorporates several component tracks, each addressing a different level of educational and professional development. The Physician-Researcher Initiative (PRI) track serves to addresses the lack of minority physician-researchers, who are needed to combat health disparities. The PRI complements and aligns with the strategic objectives of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop the next generation of biomedical and behavioral scientists capable of addressing health disparities. To accomplish this, the PRI track during the AMEC aims to: (1) Promote and highlight the participation of pre-med/med student researchers at the SNMA AMEC, (2) Increase awareness of career options as a Physician Researcher, and (3) Facilitate Physician Researcher networking and mentor-matching opportunities during the conference and beyond.
These aims will be achieved by executing specific programmatic objectives such as implementing new incentive programs through Travel Awards and sponsored WCJ Poster Forum prizes named for contributing NIH Institutes and Centers. Novel ways of collaborating with SNMA's existing network of NIH funded institutions to garner support for programming as well as facilitate pipeline mentoring will be explored. Expansion of the PRI comes as the result of increasing interest among the SNMA membership. With continued support by the NIH, we stand to better accomplish PRI's ultimate goal of addressing the need for more minority physicians involved in research.
The paucity of underrepresented minorities conducting biomedical and behavioral research within academia and industry likely contributes to health disparities. By increasing awareness, advertising research opportunities, and providing mentors for SNMA members through the Physician Researcher Initiative, it is anticipated that more underrepresented minorities will be prepared to enter the field and succeed at becoming physician-researchers to help combat the complex diseases that disproportionately affect minority communities.