Building a Community for Asian American Students

Medical students Lily Guo and Linda Li each had different experiences before coming to Duke University, but thanks to an intimate group for Asian-American students, they weren’t able to get it anywhere else. It gave them a sense of belonging.

The Duke Chapter of the Asian Pacific American Medical Students Association (APAMSA) is a student-led organization dedicated to fostering a sense of community among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students at the Duke University School of Medicine. .

Lily Guo

A native of Southern California who attended UCLA as an undergraduate, Guo was used to seeing people who looked like him and were raised by immigrant parents like him. But when she got to Duke, which has a smaller Asian population than where she grew up, she felt even more alone.

“I’ve always been used to growing up with a lot of people who are similar to me in terms of ethnic background,” said Guo, a second-year medical student. “Coming to Duke University and meeting a completely different class of people in my classes here, meeting all of APAMSA’s people made me feel a little more at home and a little bit more out of my comfort zone. rice field.”

Lee, a third-year medical student and Duke Apamsa president, said growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, she always felt in the minority. “When she entered medical school, it was very important to me to find people with similar backgrounds to feel like I was not alone and to find a community where I felt like I belonged,” she said. ”

Finding a community was especially meaningful after January’s shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California, left many Asian-Americans terrified, Lee said. Told.

“Overcoming racial and cultural identities is very important at any time in life, but especially during medical school when everything in life is difficult,” Lee said. “After the mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, I was able to find support from fellow students who were similar to me, who listened to me, who understood me, and who was alone. It was very important for me to be able to feel that it wasn’t, what I was feeling.”

Linda Lee

Lee said APAMSA also provides a safe place for students to lean on each other when they encounter discrimination or microaggressions. “The office year is probably the toughest year, but compounding that stress is the occasional microaggression, especially from patients, on the ward,” she says.

“Normally, these kinds of microaggressions are directed at those of us who look like foreigners. It really helped me process and reflect on the situation in a healthy way.”

APAMSA has three committees: the Social Committee, the Advocacy Committee, and the Community Assistance Committee. The group’s activities include hosting social events such as events celebrating important holidays in various Asian cultures. APAMSA also offers a mentorship program in which attendees and residents mentor medical students, and medical students mentor Duke University medical students. Lynton Yee, M.D., Associate Dean of Admissions for the School of Medicine, serves as APAMSA’s faculty mentor.

Guo is co-chair of the organization’s Community Support Committee. The committee organizes a community health fair each year. This year’s health fair was held in April at a local Chinese church. Medical students and doctors from Duke University participated as volunteers, conducting basic medical examinations such as diabetes and checking the BMI of the participants. They also offer mental health testing and have partnered with another student group, the Eye Concern Group, for testing for glaucoma. Volunteers from Duke Cancer Center were on standby to provide general cancer education, and student-run dermatology interest groups provided skin cancer education.

Lee, who volunteered at the mental health screening booth, said the mental health screening was helpful for the participants. “I am particularly passionate about her AAPI mental health and want to pursue psychiatry,” Lee said. “It was incredible to see people stop and talk to their therapists and psychiatrists. because there is.”

APAMSA recently held a bone marrow activity to increase the representation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the bone marrow registry and successfully added 35 people to the registry.

Future events the group plans for later this year include the Asian American and Pacific Islander Medical Leadership Conference. It also hopes to work with local Chinese schools to offer CPR, first aid and other health seminars for middle and high school students.

Photo: Volunteers at the annual Asian Community Health Fair hosted by the Duke Chapter of the Asia Pacific American Medical Students Association.

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