Electronic versions of JSNMA back issues through Summer 2008.
When HIV was first recognized in 1981, the face of AIDS was the gay Caucasian male, stigmatizing the gay community as the carriers of this debilitating disease. Over the years, HIV/AIDS has affected everyone from I.V. drug users to babies experiencing their first breaths of life. Recent attention has been given to the increased incidence of HIV/AIDS in the MSM (men who have sex with men) population, a unique challenge compounded by issues already affecting the African-American male in today’s society. However, a new face has emerged alongside the MSM – the heterosexual African-American woman. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), AIDS (and its related health conditions) is currently the leading cause of death in African-American women age 25-34. African-American women in the U.S. are diagnosed at a rate of nineteen times that of their white counterparts.
“As of 2006, 28.8 percent of the U.S. population was black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native-American, yet these groups accounted for only 14.6 percent of medical school graduates. Nationwide, only six percent of practicing physicians are members of these groups.”
The worst fear of this medical student came true in the past year: I was recommended for dismissal from the medical education curriculum due to multiple academic failures. Despite the well-meaning suggestion of many close to me not to pursue an appeal, I decided to go through with the process. I urge any medical student who may be struggling with more than one course to look into their school’s probation and dismissal policies so that they are aware of the process, and to begin seeking out individuals who would be willing to be their advocate in the event that they decide to appeal a dismissal decision. The institution I attend allows the medical student to go before two committees and, if necessary, the Dean of the Medical Program to appeal a dismissal decision. In my case, the initial progress committee voted yes to uphold their dismissal recommendation 14-1 and the second committee voted yes to uphold the dismissal decision 8-7. The Dean has decided to allow me a final opportunity as an adult learner to demonstrate that I can be successful with the medical education curriculum. I was informed that the committee members feel there is nothing the school can do to help and that is their reason behind the dismissal. In other words, I ‘won’ the appeal after being in a state of limbo for six months. However, my time as a medical student from this point forward is not going to be up for discussion but based strictly on passing grades – one more failure and I am out; no additional appeal will be possible.