WBAI: Interview with AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Program Alumnus Dr. Rafael Hernandez

On February 18, 2021, WBAI’s Driving Forces hosts Jeff Simmons and Celeste Katz Marston caught up with AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Program alumnus Dr. Rafael Hernandez, and spoke about his first year out of medical school amid COVID19.
Dr. Hernandez, a Class of 2020 graduate of the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University entered the physician workforce working on the frontlines battling COVID19. Listen to the interview



In Case You Missed It: Innovation in the Time of COVID-19

On Thursday, February 11, the Associated Medical School of New York (AMSNY) hosted a webinar examining the role of the state’s biomedical research community in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 crisis. Click to watch the full video on YouTube. View or download slideshow presentations from our expert speakers below.

Liise-anne Pirofski, MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine “Pathogenesis and therapy of COVID-19” 

Todd Evans, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine “Discover of Drugs for COVID-19”

Stephen Thomas, MD, SUNY Upstate Medical University “Leveraging Clinical Research Capabilities to Support COVID-19 Vaccine Development”

Diana Hernandez, PhD, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health “COVID-19 Disparities: Proximal and Long-term Impacts on the Social Determinants of Health”

Introducing AMSNY’s Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Recipients for 2020-2021

10 Medical Students Awarded State-Funded Scholarships, Commit to Working in Underserved Areas

As COVID-19 Highlights Long-Time Health Disparities, AMSNY Continues Efforts to Diversify the Physician Workforce

(New York)—The Associated Medical Schools of New York is proud to introduce the 10 recipients of the 2020-2021 AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship, funded by the New York State Department of Health, thanks to support from the New York State Assembly and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.

The AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship is designed to increase the number of physicians working in  underserved communities, while addressing financial barriers for medical students from underrepresented backgrounds. The scholarship is pegged to the cost of SUNY medical school tuition, and is available to those students who have completed an AMSNY post-baccalaureate program and who commit to work in an underserved area in NYS upon completion of their medical education. AMSNY’s programs and scholarship together support a more diverse pipeline of future doctors in New York State, which research shows can help address health disparities.

“AMSNY congratulates each of this year’s Diversity in Medicine Scholarship recipients, who all have demonstrated an incredible passion for medicine and a commitment to serving communities in need,” said Jo Wiederhorn, CEO of AMSNY.  “Their addition to the physician workforce will help improve representation in medicine and contribute towards reducing health disparities, thanks to funding from the New York State Legislature.”



Undergraduate: Stony Brook University, BS (Health Science) ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’17 
Medical School: State University of New York, Downstate College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Akya grew up in Brooklyn, New York, after her mother immigrated from Jamaica to secure better services for her son who is profoundly mentally disabled. Akya learned that while medical care was better in the United States, her mother and brother still struggled to access quality medicine and culturally competent care. This inequity led Akya to pursue a career in medicine but also instilled a drive to serve vulnerable communities and individuals who are chronically underserved. Akya has started various community service initiatives, participated in health disparities research projects, and has joined a team to aid in a Medical Health Trip to Jamaica, where her roots originate. Akya describes a commitment to serve as an honor, rather than a requirement, and she is excited to work with an underserved community as a urologist after residency. Akya is in her final year of medical school.


Undergraduate: University of Connecticut, BS (Biological Science), ’14
Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Training), ’17 
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Diana moved to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic at age 11. In high school, she participated in a summer internship at St. Vincent Medical Center’s Emergency Department. Through this program, she gained a deeper understanding of the importance for physicians to provide quality care and to help patients make better health choices. After college, Diana worked as a Perinatal Health Coordinator at the Institute for Family Health providing health education and guidance to low-income pregnant women. Diana says that growing up in the Bronx, one of the poorest counties in the country, led her to view advocacy and justice as an obligation for healthcare professionals. As a medical student, participating in the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, she has learned more about the healthcare disparities affecting her community. Diana is in her final year at Einstein and looks forward to serving underserved areas as a Family Medicine physician.



Undergraduate: Pomona College, BA (Spanish), ’09
Doctorate: New York University, PhD (Latin American & Latina/o Literatures and Cultures), ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’19 
Medical School: SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, MD, ’23

Antía’s interest in becoming a physician emerged from her personal experiences as a transgender Latina and first-generation college student. As a child of Mexican immigrants, Antía grew up in an agricultural town with minimal access to medical care. These experiences led her to research narratives of illness in queer Latina/o literature during graduate school. Early in her transition, Antía made the decision to pursue a career in medicine. She is currently a second-year medical student at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. As a transgender woman of color with access to the science and practice of medicine, Antía hopes to provide culturally humble patient education, preventative medicine, and disease treatment for those in her communities.

Undergraduate: Russell Sage College, BA (Psychology), ’15
Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Technology), ’19
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’23 

Deashia grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where she experienced, first-hand,  healthcare disparities in a medically underserved community. Her passion for medicine was ignited in high school when she participated in the NYU School of Medicine High School Fellows Program. She attended an all-women’s college, where she learned about the inequalities that women face in society, especially in medicine. After college and while applying to medical school, Deashia served as an AmeriCorps volunteer being a patient educator in a women’s homeless shelter and at various homeless shelter clinics throughout NYC. Deashia was offered the opportunity to attend medical school through the AMSNY/Upstate University Medical School’s Master’s in Medical Technology and is currently a second-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University. These experiences have inspired her to advocate for and serve underserved and underrepresented populations. She looks forward to empowering and to providing comprehensive care to her future patients.

Undergraduate: State University of New York at Buffalo, BS (Biological Sciences), ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’18 
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’22

Michael realized that his life goal was to become a physician based on his desire to educate and empower those living in underserved communities. Michael grew up in an underserved community in Queens, New York. From an early age, he experienced and observed inequities in the provision of healthcare as a result of a lack of trust between patients and physicians. Michael excelled in his academics and is now a third-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University. As President of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Chapter at Upstate, he leads efforts focused on the needs and concerns of black medical students. He is an active participant in programs such as Safe Spaces and Zhonta House, where he encourages and advises youth of color. This has shaped his goal to use education to serve his patients. He looks forward to delivering comprehensive healthcare and mentorship to those communities especially in need. 

Undergraduate: Union College, BS (Biological Sciences), ’18
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’19 
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’23 

Samantha was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, where she has observed throughout her lifetime, how medical care is delivered to an underserved area. Her desire to return to this community as a provider has stemmed from working as a pediatrics volunteer for four years at the Syracuse Community Health Center (SCHC), a federally qualified health center. In Schenectady, New York, Samantha volunteered at the Sunnyview Rehabilitation Center and worked with patients who experienced life-altering, traumatic injuries. She later became an emergency department scribe at Ellis Hospital in hopes of decreasing the burden of documentation for physicians to enhance patient encounters. Her love for Syracuse and passion for improving its health outcomes was reaffirmed when she chose to attend medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical University. She is currently on the executive boards of Student National Medical Association, Latino Medical Student Association, American Medical Women’s Association, and Endocrinology Interest Group, all at Upstate. In these organizations, Samantha finds a way to engage peers and faculty about health disparities and cultural humility. She is also the chair of the 2021 Health Justice Conference at Upstate which will feature topics such as LGBTQ+ health, environmental justice, COVID-19 health disparities, and much more.


Undergraduate: Syracuse University, BS (Psychology; Neuroscience), ’16
Post-Bac: Stony Brook University, MS (Biomedical Sciences), ’18 
Medical School: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, MD, ’22 

As the son of Jamaican immigrants living in an underserved area of the Bronx, NY, Emelio has had first-hand experience in a community that would greatly benefit from physicians of color. Emelio’s interest in medicine started when he lost his grandfather to a preventable illness. Inspired by his mother’s community healthcare activism, Emelio wants to become a healthcare leader treating and educating both patients and the larger community about disease prevention. His clinical experiences serving as an E.M.T. in the greater Syracuse area and also internationally in Argentina and Peru fueled his desire to work with the underserved. As the first in his family to navigate the college application process, attend graduate school, and medical school, Emelio has been a trailblazer in his own path to excel in his education while working part-time and remaining an active mentor to inner city youth in his community. Emelio is now in his third year at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University and looks forward to helping patients in predominantly immigrant-populated, disadvantaged communities in New York State.



Undergraduate: Georgia Institute of Technology, BS (Psychology), ’15
Graduate: Georgia State University, MPH (Epidemiology), ’18
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’18 
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’22 

Obioesio, a first-generation Nigerian American, grew up watching his parents struggle to provide the necessary care for his younger brother who was diagnosed with profound autism at an early age. His brother’s condition, and his parents’ commitment to advocate for his brother, inspired Obioesio’s interest in medicine. In college, Obioesio pursued psychology as his major to better understand mental disorders. His master’s degree in public health was influenced by his experiences with disproportionately poor health outcomes of minority patients. Obioesio is in his third year at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and looks forward to serving medically underserved communities. As a future physician, he emphasizes the importance of building a strong sense of trust with patients to better serve patients’ needs. He plans to provide simplified health care education and continue in research efforts addressing health disparities and examining community interventions serving as prevention against negative health outcomes.

Undergraduate: Boston University, BS (Health Sciences & Public Health), ’13
Post-Bac: New York Medical College (AMSNY), ’17
Medical School: New York Medical College, MD, ’21 

Sheba is from Brooklyn, NY and is currently a fourth-year medical student at New York Medical College. Sheba traveled to Honduras on a medical mission trip before working diligently to get into medical school through the AMSNY post-baccalaureate program at New York Medical College. Her future plans are to work as a primary care physician in her hometown, where many Afro-Caribbean areas have a high prevalence of chronic diseases – where the overarching thought is that chronic disease is normalcy among groups of color. Sheba intends to create a shift in the clinical approach of medicine to reflect the social needs of her patients by focusing on preventative care strategies that can be applied to the community as a whole. Being of Guyanese-Nigerian descent,  she understands these social intricacies and is confident of the care she can provide as a PCP. Sheba hopes to obtain her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in health policy and become a leader and advocate to impact research, funding, and health policies among these underserved communities.

Undergrad: Florida International University, BS (Biological Sciences, Minor in Chemistry), ’15
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’18 
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’22

Born in Venezuela during a time of political and economic unrest, Juan and his family immigrated to the US in search of a better future. From childhood, Juan has dreamt of becoming a doctor. Observing his grandmother struggle with her health due to a lack of access to medical care fueled his compassion and interest in the care of others. As a future physician, he intends to bridge this gap in access to care to drastically improve his patients’ quality of life. His experiences as a medical scribe in Miami and later as a Spanish language interpreter at a free clinic in the Bronx informed him of how critically important language and cultural competency are in the medical field, especially in underserved communities. Juan connected with Spanish-speaking patients and realized his passion to treat and advocate for people from backgrounds similar to his. Juan is committed to taking a proactive approach to healthcare by understanding the needs of the community and advocating for his patients. He is currently a third-year medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.


The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is a consortium of the 17 public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to promote high quality and cost-efficient health care by assuring that the medical schools of New York State can provide outstanding medical education, care and research. The combined total of New York’s medical schools economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion. This means $1 in every $13 in the New York economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information on AMSNY, please visit:

BronxTalk – Diversity in Medicine

Doctors from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Health System: (L-R) Dr. Andre Bryan, Dr. Dahlia Townsend, Dr. Michelle Ng Gong, (photo courtesy of AECOM)


This week’s BronxTalk on BronxNet takes a look at the lack of diversity in medicine and how it affects care, especially during this time of pandemic when quality medical care is literally a matter of life or death.

According to the Associated Medical Schools of NY (AMSNY), today there are as few Black men in medicine as there were in the 1970s and In New York State, between 2011 and 2015, Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos were approximately 31% of the population, yet only 12% of the physician workforce.

Jo Wiederhorn, President & CEO of the AMSNY talked with host Gary Axelbank about their study Addressing the Challenges of a Diverse Physician Workforce that sheds light on health disparities, barriers to diversifying the physician workforce, as well as the gap in physician diversity and how it contributes to the gross health disparities faced by people of color which have been magnified by the coronavirus pandemic.

Also Nilda Soto, Assistant Dean for Diversity Enhancement at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, reviewed their on-going scholastic programs in city schools designed to inspire young people of color to enter the field of medicine. 

Get Connected on Lite FM 106.7: Associated Medical Schools of NY & Racial Diversity

New York City’s 106.7 Lite FM’s weekly talk show with host Nina del Rio and guests, airing every
Sunday, 7-7:30am EST.July 26, 2020 16 min

Jo Wiederhorn, President & CEO of Associated Medical Schools of New York, a consortium of 17 public and private medical schools throughout New York State, discusses racial disparities in medicine and solutions to creating a diverse physician workforce. For more, visit

Crain’s New York: Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Prioritize diversity among doctors

June 30, 2020 01:19 PM

Getty Images: 
Medical workers take in patients at a special coronavirus intake area at Maimonides Medical Center on April 07, 2020 in Brooklyn.

To the editor:

We were glad to see the editorial board’s statement that “It’s essential for NY to acknowledge bias in health care.”

As Covid-19 brings a renewed focus on addressing health disparities, we urge policymakers to include efforts to increase diversity among doctors as a key tool in this effort. 

Research on health disparities has found evidence of improved treatment and prevention when patients are seen by a racially concordant doctor or a doctor from a similar racial background.

Additionally, doctors from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely to work in primary care and in medically underserved areas, where there are physician shortages and decreased access to care.

Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough diverse doctors to meet the needs of diverse patients. Here in New York state, only 12% of the physician workforce is Black or Latinx, compared with 31% of the population.

In order to increase diversity among doctors, we must address the systemic barriers to medical school, including financial barriers, alongside the lack of access to mentorship and guidance during high school or undergraduate studies.

Publicly-funded pipeline programs and scholarships for students from underrepresented backgrounds are successful in supporting aspiring doctors to become physicians but have shrunk over the years instead of expanding to meet the need. The pandemic has shown us we can’t wait any longer to prioritize diversity among doctors.

Jo Wiederhorn
President and CEO
The Associated Medical Schools of New York

Statement from AMSNY:

The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY)—the consortium of all 17 medical schools in the state—joins with many across the country in mourning Black lives lost to police violence, and we stand in solidarity with those expressing outrage and sorrow through protest.

The problems of systemic racism in America are far reaching and extend well beyond policing. You can see it clearly in our health care settings. There are as few Black men in medicine today as there were in the 1970s.  The gap in physician diversity contributes to the gross health disparities faced by people of color in America – disparities magnified by the pandemic.

We are aware of the extra obstacles Black students, faculty and researchers are asked to overcome in pursuing their education and careers. It’s why we run pipeline programs to support students who are from racial, ethnic and cultural groups that are underrepresented in medicine. Our programs provide academic support and mentoring for students starting in middle school and continuing until entry into medical school, with a scholarship program to further support medical students. It’s why we convene representatives from NY medical schools to discuss ways to better prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion and from that, develop actionable solutions.  It is clear that we all can and must do more to combat institutional racism in our country. 

We recognize there is much more work to be done in our sector and will continue looking for additional ways to support Black students and faculty in the weeks, months, and years ahead. As we move forward, we are committed to listening and learning, and we welcome feedback and ideas. And we will continue to speak out about these issues and advocate for change.

Please reach out to if you would like to share your thoughts with us.