A Foster School of Medicine assistant professor was recently appointed to two national medical committees that focus on diversity in the medical field.
Alonso Andrade, M.D., FACS, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, has begun a three-year term on the Surgical Infection Society’s Ad Hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee. He will also join the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Diversity Issues in October.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Andrade’s first meetings with both organizations will be conducted virtually. However, he’s excited to join both committees and wants to help Hispanics from underrepresented communities become doctors and study surgery. He said he hopes his actions on both committees will have a long-term impact for future generations.
“It’s vital to have representation, particularly when we talk about underrepresented minorities in medicine and, specifically, in surgery. I think it’s important for people from these communities to have a voice at the leadership levels,” Dr. Andrade said. “I hope to bring up not just the issues that are important to underrepresented minorities, but also some of the obstacles that make it difficult for minority medical students to pursue a career in surgery. In the long run, hopefully, we can make surgery and medicine opportunities more accessible to students in underrepresented minority communities. That would also help patients in those communities.”
The El Paso area and rural West Texas face physician shortages, reflecting a nationwide trend. Towns in surrounding Hudspeth and Culberson counties, as well as unincorporated communities outside of El Paso, lack sufficient access to health care. The Foster School of Medicine trains students in culturally competent care with the goal of keeping these future physicians in West Texas to treat patients in both metropolitan and rural areas.
Minorities going on to have careers in medicine will help close the gap in health care disparities, Dr. Andrade said. Having a doctor who shares a similar culture or background makes it easier for patients to discuss their medical issues and connect better with their health care provider, he said.
“Being from El Paso and the border, we have a unique opportunity, and we must make sure we provide the tools necessary for underrepresented minorities to become medical professionals, including surgeons,” Dr. Andrade said. “That’s part of what TTUHSC El Paso is doing with the Foster School of Medicine, the Hunt School of Nursing and soon, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine. Having a place at the table with national organizations will benefit future minority students and medical professionals for our institution and nationwide.”
Dr. Andrade is the associate clerkship director for general surgery and clerkship director for the surgery sub-internship at the Foster School of Medicine, and also serves as the associate residency program director for the general surgery residency at TTUHSC El Paso. He also holds the title of surgery medical director and director of the National Surgery Quality Improvement Program at University Medical Center of El Paso. He is board certified in general surgery and provides comprehensive general surgical care including minimally invasive and robotic surgery.
The Surgical Infection Society is a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate health care providers and the public about infection in surgical patients. It also promotes research dedicated to understanding, preventing and managing surgical infections.
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association founded in 1913. The association’s goal is to improve the care of surgical patients and safeguard standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment.