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Partnering to Educate the Latino Community about COVID-19

News December 29, 2020


To encourage collaboration among its chapters, the Northeast Regional Board of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) recently tasked chapters in various cities to work together to develop and implement a community service project for their local Latino community.

“Our group included Jefferson, Penn, Drexel, PCOM and Temple,” says second-year Temple medical student Jordan Juarez, the outgoing Co-President of Temple’s LMSA chapter. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all came together via Zoom to brainstorm ideas.”

With Black and Spanish-speaking communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the Philadelphia group decided to create a webinar to educate those populations about the disease. Rather than give a one-time presentation, however, the group felt it was important to do something more long-lasting and impactful.

“We came up with the idea to create an English and Spanish educational webinar that we could distribute to hospitals and clinics throughout the city,” says Juarez, a Mexican American who grew up in California. “There is significant research demonstrating that racial and ethnic concordance in medical care leads to improved outcomes such as increased trust and decreased confusion, two benefits that can help address both the cultural and language barriers prevalent in our community.”

“Each LMSA chapter in our group chose a topic and created a two-minute video segment which they then sent to me,” Juarez continues. “I served as the coordinator, intro and conclusion narrator, and video editor for the project, but it was absolutely a collaborative group effort.”

LMSA ScreenshotThe final product created by the Philadelphia LMSA group was two 10-minute videos —- one in English and one in Spanish – that cover the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, testing, use of masks, safety precautions, and what to do if you test positive.

“We’re trying to promote cooperative relationships among students from different schools,” says Juan Cerezo, a third-year Temple medical student and Director-Elect of LMSA Northeast.

“Many of the chapters didn’t know each other even though they were in the same community. Temple’s LMSA chapter has grown exponentially since I joined three years ago, and we want to encourage continued growth and collaboration among chapters.”

“Having chapters work together on a community service project was just one of the ways we’ve been expanding outreach this year,” continues Cerezo. “We’re also holding Zoom panels for undergrads applying to medical school, bringing in virtual speakers, and organizing donations for local groups. The video project is an excellent example of an initiative to put forward medical information in Spanish since so many members of Temple’s community are native Spanish speakers.”

“The COVID video is just one example of our LMSA students’ involvement in the community,” says Ana Gamero, PhD, Associate Professor at LKSOM and co-faculty advisor to Temple LMSA. “There are more Latino students attending medical school and LMSA is growing. The Temple chapter has been gaining momentum in recent years. They are active on every social media platform and are very involved with the Northeast regional board and conference. They are going above and beyond. It’s amazing to see how much they are able to do given the rigors of medical school.”

“I give this group a lot of credit,” adds Oneida Arosarena, MD, FACS, LKSOM’s Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and co-faculty advisor to Temple LMSA. “They came up with the idea for the COVID video and just ran with it. The project was thoroughly researched and now they are working to distribute the video to various areas within the hospital as well as local community organizations where it might be useful. The LMSA students realize the Latino/Hispanic population in our community has been underserved for some time now. It’s heartwarming to see how much they care.”

Learn More about LKSOM Student Organizations