Local Doctors Launch Medical Organization for Latino Advancement Wisconsin Chapter
The Latino community is the fastest growing segment of the population in Wisconsin, but the number of physicians from this community has declined nationally over the past 30 years. Less than five percent of physicians in the United States identify as Hispanic or Latino.
“We know in medicine that if you see a doctor who is like you, who understands culturally where you come from, the health outcomes are better,” said Dr. Patricia Tellez-Girón, family physician at UW Health, at Madison365. “But we have to start developing our own because we don’t see that society as a whole is really aiming for that.”
With that in mind, Tellez-Girón and several other healthcare leaders have launched a new organization — a Wisconsin chapter of the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement (MOLA), which began in Chicago in 2017.
Tellez-Girón said she and several other Madison doctors attended the 2019 meeting of the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) and spoke with Chicago colleagues who launched MOLA there two years earlier.
“We had done it before without making it official,” said Tellez-Girón, founding president of MOLA-Wisconsin, which recently obtained 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit. “I’ve been mentoring for probably 20 years. We realized that a lot of what we were doing here was already very similar to what the MOLA model was.
This model is one of mentoring and support for young people who wish to pursue a career in the health field, from high school through medical school. This can include encouragement, advice, networking and connections, as well as help finding internships and even financial support for medical school entrance exams.
“It’s basically a ladder, where each member helps the one below them succeed,” Tellez-Girón said.
It is important to note that the MOLA model has a local orientation.
“We have other organizations like the National Hispanic Medical Association, which is kind of an umbrella, but we need more local organizations that are dedicated to doing more local work,” she said.
After that initial conversation at the NHMA meeting, it took three years to launch MOLA-Wisconsin due, at least in part, to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a lot more work to do in the communities than really focusing on forming the organization,” Tellez-Girón said. “But we tried to resume because we know how important it is. So we would have been faster without COVID, but it is happening.
She said helping medical professionals look after their own mental health and wellbeing will be an important focus for the organization.
“I think as healthcare professionals sometimes we forget ourselves because we serve everyone,” she said. “So that’s another thing that MALO Chicago does very well. They help feed their members so they can keep doing what they’re doing.
It will also be important to listen to young people entering the profession to assess their needs.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years. My training may have been very different,” she said. “But we want to see what they need so we can meet their needs.”
MOLA-Chicago Vice President Oscar Zambrano said it was “extremely exciting” to launch a second chapter.
“We are a professional business organization, and at the same time, we have a lot of community roots,” he said. “We are excited to expand into Wisconsin because we believe there is a lot to do, a lot of opportunity to improve the health of our community in Milwaukee and Madison.”
Zambrano said starting local chapters in communities across the country is one of the organization’s goals.
“We have MOLA members in California, Florida, New York…the way the training works is that medical students across the country participate in applications for different residency programs in many parts of the country,” he said. -he declares. “So they can go to school in, say, Milwaukee, and they go to residency in Ohio, and they go to a scholarship program in Texas. So I hope they will come back to the communities where they come from. “
According to a press release provided to Madison365 on Monday, the Wisconsin chapter has formed a board of directors that includes María Mora Pinzón, MD, MS, FACPM (president-elect); Erick Tarula, MD (treasurer); Maria Daniela; Martín Rother, MD (secretary); Manuel Santiago, M.Ed.; Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, MA, CDM; Reivian Berrios Barillas, Ph.D., PT; Fernando Cano Ospina, DSC; Alejandra Torres Diaz, BS; and Juliana Craig, BS.
Tellez-Girón said the Wisconsin chapter will now begin recruiting members and raising funds. She said the council is completely voluntary and unpaid, and the funds raised will help students in health professions prepare for exams, attend lectures and more.
“We know you can’t be what you can’t see,” MOLA-Wisconsin president-elect Dr. Mora Pinzón said in a statement. “We hope that by collaborating with MOLA-Chicago and other organizations, we can increase the number of role models our community has, make everyone feel like they belong in medicine, and bring new resources to support everyone on their journey! ”