Pre-health society to hold undergraduate conference on global health

Pre-health students will gather for a conference on Sunday to discuss global health care issues and how they affect different aspects of the medical field.

The Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-medical honors society will host its annual Southland Pre-Health Conference, featuring a keynote speaker from the USC Institute for Global Health. The conference is held annually to educate pre-health undergraduates about the medical field.

“The way we want to relate global health things is that we want to give a perspective of health as a whole in the entire world. But at the same time, we want to compare that to our health care system here,” Southland co-chair David Daar said.

Keynote speaker Dr. Jonathan Samet, director of the Institute for Global Health, was asked to speak because he represents the focus of the conference: global health care.

AED chose to focus on global health care because of rising student interest in wanting to practice medicine outside of the United States.

“A lot of our members are interested in the [World Health Organization] or the doctors without borders,” Daar said.

Daar and co-chair Emma McDonnell said this year’s conference will be different from previous ones because it will span many different facets of medicine.

“Our variety of speakers is definitely different. We tried to pull in people from all facets of health care or physical therapists or physician assistants,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell added that AED collaborated with pre-pharmacy students this year, something they’ve never done before.

The conference will also feature Gina Camello, associate director of admissions at the USC Keck School of Medicine, who will talk to students about applying to medical school.

Although health care reform will not be a main focus, organizers said they have asked many of the medical experts to touch on the potential health care changes.

“We’ve asked our individual speakers to talk about how the health care reform will affect them personally,” McDonnell said.

Along with speakers and workshops, the test-prep company Princeton Review will be hosting a raffle for two $1,000 scholarships for MCAT prep classes. One scholarship is enough to cover half the price of a standard course. Kaplan will also have representatives at the conference.

The focus of the conference is not admissions, though, Daar said. Instead, AED hopes to give attendees a picture of health care today and a sense of what their careers might be like.

“It’s for students by students,” he said.

This is the 44th Southland conference at USC, but AED has only recently started hosting the event at the Davidson Conference Center, McDonnell said.

The majority of the cost of holding the conference is renting the Davidson center, according to McDonnell. AED received funding from the Undergraduate Student Government, as well as the Office of the Provost, through support from Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs Gene Bickers.

“We got $2,000 after presenting to the professional fund at USG,” McDonnell said. “We also got shirts donated from the bookstore as part of the thank you packages we’re giving to [the speakers].”

Jeff Sakamoto, a freshman majoring in biomedical engineering, said he would consider going to the pre-health conference to explore his options. For now, Sakamoto said, he wants to go into the medical field, but he’s not sure what aspect he wants to focus on.

“I would go to get more of a broader view on medicine — I mean, medicine is such a huge field — just to see what I’d be interested in doing because there’s so much that you can do in medicine,” Sakamoto said.