About SNMA

The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) was founded in 1964 as a sub-division of the National Medical Association (NMA), largely through the effort and support of W. Montague Cobb, MD, an NMA member (and, later, NMA President), who spearheaded the initiative to include medical students in the association’s ranks. The SNMA’s founding chapters were Meharry Medical College and Howard University College of Medicine. SNMA has conducted an annual convention every year since its inception.

By 1970, SNMA had become a strong enough network, with sufficient leadership capability and chapter strength, to consider becoming an independent organization. In 1971, having formed its original Constitution and By-Laws, the SNMA became an independent corporation and  “Affirmative Action” legislation was in place everywhere, with increased minority enrollments rising at schools throughout the country and on most medical school campuses. SNMA’s network grew steadily.

Throughout the 1980’s, as SNMA continued to build, new chapters were added and old ones were strengthened. SNMA members at the local level focused especially in “getting the word out”, promoting the themes of mutual support for medical students of color in its various locations and pressing for the transformation of medical teaching, such that medical instruction received by all students was culturally sensitive to the needs of the nation’s diverse and varied populations. In the mid-to-late ‘80s, SNMA leadership began to bring stronger focus to its community service efforts, fulfilling the organization’s mission not only to nurture and support the academic enrichment of it’s medical student members, but also to serve communities in a very real and pro-active way.

In the first twenty-five years, there was no permanent staff and the students themselves conducted much of the work of the organization, under the direction of the medical student Board of Directors. With increased membership and the growing popularity and financial success of the annual meeting both providing sufficient revenue annually, the organization was now assured of meeting its business obligations.

In 2000, the organization obtained its first significant federal contract. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded a contract to SNMA to conduct HIV/AID intervention and prevention training through the SNMA-conceived HIP Corps program. HIP Corps was a unique concept, an outgrowth of SNMA’s Sexual Health Awareness protocol wherein SNMA medical student members serve as both agents and trainers of other students to conduct and deliver information to the community regarding HIV and AIDS, with a focus that is particularly culturally sensitive to the populations addressed.

The forecast, then, for the coming years in the 2000’s decades will most likely include the transformation away from the board-based management style, to increased reliance on the services of competent professional personnel and specialized service providers. With the burgeoning increase of new business technologies, there will evolve an increased dependency on consistent administration emanating from the National Headquarters, including the presence of full-time professional staff to support the association’s mission and related projects. New policies and procedural guidelines are anticipated for satisfactorily accommodating development, and for assuring continued long-life and sustained growth of the organization.

Programmatically, the legislative demise at the national level of Affirmative Action incentives will demand from SNMA’s student leaders innovative ways of reaching and motivating underserved students, and encouraging them to our ranks. As with change anywhere, at any time, this transition to new and creative program strategies (as well as the turn toward more sophisticated management and administration practices) will take some time, requiring diligence and persistent attention on the part of SNMA’s corporate leaders and staff, as departures from older ways of carrying-out the organization’s business affairs are introduced. What will remain constant and sure will be policy governance by and for the medical students; this is the SNMA.


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