The faculty, students, and staff of Meharry Medical College (MMC) and the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) recently engaged in a lively and informative discussion with Dr. Pèrez-Stable, Director of the National Institute on Minority Health at the NIH (NIMHD). Moderated by Dr. Leah Alexander, the conversation encompassed a broad range of topics. Robust discussion included the potential of multi-disciplinary collaboration and preventative medicine, the value of an MPH degree for a career in health equity, the political economy of Cuba's health system, the impact of racial disparities on health, as well as current initiatives at NIMHD.
Graduate students from Dr. Alexander's MPH seminar asked Dr. Pèrez-Stable to elaborate on how he engaged with community during his early years as a clinician. Notably, he explained his reasons for living in the same community as the patients he treated while practicing in San Francisco. The NIMHD Director highlighted the significance of building strong connections within patient communities. He underscored that when physicians and health advocates live in proximity to the communities they serve, providers tend to develop deeper compassion for and awareness of patient struggles. It becomes possible to close disparate gaps in health and wellbeing by providing much-needed nuanced care to patients and their loved ones. Additionally, Dr. Pèrez-Stable underscored the need for physician visibility in marginalized communities now, more than ever to re-establish trust and lay a foundation of mutual respect. Both mutual trust and respect are necessary to dispel misinformation that runs contrary to the wellbeing and safety of patient communities. The Director spoke briefly about the challenges NIMHD faces to combat misinformation about COVID in particular and the vital role that physicians play in health education.
Dr. Pèrez-Stable spent a generous couple of hours with the attendees affirming the creative interventions and competencies unique to faculty and students at MMC. Students and faculty were able to engage with him extensively in one-on-one talks following the group discussion.
The Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) is a 20+year partnership between Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center that serves to advance the shared interests of our institutions and community partners. The MVA is the epicenter of collaboration, capacity-building, and community engagement for health equity in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.