Students from University of Medicine and Health Sciences Awarded Scholarships for AMSA Reproductive Justice Leadership Program

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Three women from top-rated Caribbean medical school admitted to program focused on reproductive health training for future physicians - including family planning, birth control, and abortion services and education

Surpreet Khunkhun, one of three UMHS medical students to win scholarship to AMSA's Reproductive Justice Leadership Program

No matter what your politics or religious beliefs are, it should be a given that people facing important medical decisions deserve access to accurate, unbiased, and confidential information about their healthcare.

The University of Medicine and Health Sciences, (UMHS), a small, mission-driven medical school with a commitment to student support and a legacy of successful residency placements in the United States and Canada, announced that three of its medical students have been awarded scholarships from the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) for its Reproductive Justice Leadership Program. Surpreet Khunkhun, Mariana Ndrio, and Eboni Peoples will participate in AMSA’s specialized course, which addresses the “hidden curriculum” in medical school and prepares students to think critically about abortion-related education and training opportunities. Through AMSA’s program, these UMHS scholarship winners will study the principles of reproductive justice, diversity and equity in the healthcare workforce, and how maternal mortality and abortion restrictions undermine quality care and harm women of color. Khunkhun, Ndrio, and Peoples described their journey to medical school and shared how their unique experiences drive their passion for learning about reproductive justice for the UMHS blog, The Endeavour.

As a first-generation Canadian of Indian descent and second-year medical student Surpreet Khunkhun, acknowledges that sex and reproduction are taboo topics.

“I grew up knowing very little about the barriers around accessing reproductive services,” Khunkhun said. ““As an aspiring OB/GYN, signing up for AMSA’s Reproductive Justice Leadership Program is my first step in educating myself to be the type of physician I want to be. It is very appalling to me that there are people out there getting away with [intentionally] providing inaccurate information to a person seeking medical aid. No matter what your politics or religious beliefs are, it should be a given that people facing important medical decisions deserve access to accurate, unbiased, and confidential information about their healthcare.”

Second-year UMHS student Mariana Ndrio said she believes reproductive health is every woman’s right, and knows firsthand about the struggles women face regarding access to care.

“Having lived in countries like Albania and Greece as a child of refugees, I have borne witness to the barriers women face when accessing reproductive services from a very young age,” Ndrio said. “Too often I heard stories of migrant and refugee women being left to die in botched abortions or in the process of giving birth under sub-par conditions, whether it be in local hospitals or forgotten refugee camps. In either situation, the same horrific reality persisted: that of not having access to contraception and reproductive services due to ethnic or socioeconomic status. Now more than ever, we as future physicians must be aware of how such barriers disproportionately and directly affect our patients—especially black, brown, indigenous, and queer women.”

Eboni Peoples, a third-year medical student at UMHS, is using her training to make a difference for women by participating in virtual discussions with political leaders. Most recently, Peoples spoke to legislative aides in Florida, a state that has tried to place numerous restrictions on abortion and where 73% of counties have no abortion clinic.

“Since joining the Reproductive Justice Leadership Program, I have been paying more attention to state and federal policies and participated in several Congressional visits via Zoom,” Peoples said. “[Last month], I met with the legislative aides for Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and legislative aides for Congressman Brian Mast and Congresswoman Donna Shalala. In these meetings, I was able to express my concerns for the health and safety of patients while raising awareness for bodily autonomy. The Reproductive Justice Leadership Program has encouraged me to look into abortion coverages for women and people, and become a more educated advocate for patients who may be interested in those resources.”

Participants in AMSA’s Reproductive Justice Leadership Programs take online courses in abortion-related training and education opportunities. Students complete required online reading before taking each course, which includes expert speakers from the field of reproductive health and justice. Upon successful completion of the course, students earn a certificate of recognition and an AMSA honor cord to wear at graduation from medical school.

To learn more about UMHS students Surpreet Khunkhun, Mariana Ndrio, and Eboni Peoples and their participation in AMSA’s Reproductive Justice Leadership Program, visit https://www.umhs-sk.org/blog.

About UMHS
The University of Medicine and Health Sciences (UMHS), is a small, mission-driven medical school with a commitment to student support and a legacy of successful residency placements in the United States and Canada. UMHS was founded in 2007 by medical education pioneers Warren and Robert Ross to deliver a highly personalized school experience. Graduates of UMHS earn a Doctor of Medicine degree (MD) and qualify to practice medicine throughout the United States and Canada. Students begin their Basic Science studies in St. Kitts, West Indies, and complete their clinical training in the United States. With an unprecedented 96% student retention rate, the vast majority of students that begin their medical studies at UMHS go on to obtain residencies. For more information visit https://www.umhs-sk.org/.

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