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Desire to serve underserved led Berrios to ATSU’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona

A.T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) student Yanitza Berrios, OMS III

When A.T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) student Yanitza Berrios, OMS III, was deciding where to go to medical school, she reflected upon her life experiences. 

Berrios had worked and volunteered in underserved, uninsured, and underinsured communities, many with a predominantly Spanish-speaking population. This is where Berrios wanted to be in the future, providing medical care, so she sought a school whose mission aligned with those goals of serving the underserved. 

She sought ATSU-SOMA.

“I chose ATSU-SOMA because of its strong commitment to serving underserved communities,” Berrios said. “What I enjoy most about being an ATSU-SOMA student is being surrounded by like-minded people. I think ATSU selects outstanding students who will make amazing physicians. I feel supported and uplifted by my classmates, as well as those in graduating classes ahead of me.”

Originally from Arcadia, California, Berrios has a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences, with a concentration in cellular and developmental biology, from California State University, Fullerton. She fully enjoyed her first year with ATSU-SOMA on the School’s Mesa, Arizona, campus.

“During my first year on campus, I enjoyed the sense of community,” she said. “I liked participating in the events the Student Life office held, as well as events hosted by various clubs and organizations. I participated in a suturing workshop and an ultrasound workshop, which greatly prepared me for my clinical rotations.”

Berrios is doing her clinical rotation in Portland, and is enjoying serving the community there and experiencing the Pacific Northwest.

“There are many farms surrounding Portland, and I love visiting them – whether it’s an apple orchard, a pumpkin patch, or a tulip farm! I enjoy playing tennis with my boyfriend when it’s not raining, and doing different arts and crafts. Most recently, I took a pottery class and am hopeful I can continue this as a hobby,” she said.

Berrios has also immersed herself in ATSU-SOMA student organizations, as a member and officer in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Club, and member of Capacidad: ATSU Global Health Honors Society, Gold Humanism Honor Society, and First Generation Medical Student Association. 

“I joined Capacidad because I am interested in global health, especially in Spanish-speaking countries,” she said. “Capacidad has had members travel to Peru and Uganda with their nonprofit partner organizations, MGY, Project Amazonas, and Northern Uganda Medical Mission. I am part of the subcommittee for Project Amazonas, and was able to participate in creating and translating material for training workshops in which community members are trained to perform clinical tasks that will benefit their communities. Additionally, I gave a presentation on maternal and child health to fellow Capacidad members, as well as learned about many global health topics from fellow members.”

After initially being nominated for membership to the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), Berrios applied for membership because of the organization’s dedication to compassionate care, respect, integrity, and the human connection in healthcare. 

“What resonated most with me is GHHS’s commitment to reinforcing the humanistic aspects of medical care. During my membership, I gave a grand rounds presentation on cultural competence in medicine, highlighting the disparities that currently exist, the impact cultural competence has on patient populations, and initiatives we can embrace as healthcare providers. I have had the privilege to learn more about many aspects of humanism in medicine, including taking care of our mental health as health providers, the art of palliative care, and understanding health literacy,” she said.

Berrios has also served as an ATSU-SOMA student ambassador, something she’d originally done at her undergraduate institution and was anxious to continue.

“I have really enjoyed connecting with current and prospective students, sharing my personal experiences, and answering any questions they may have. It’s exciting sharing fun activities to do in Mesa and the great things our campus has to offer,” she said. “Each time I’m able to connect with a prospective student, it takes me back to being in their shoes and the expansive list of questions I had. I am the first in my family to become a physician, and have been supported by many along the way. I enjoy providing future medical students with similar help and support, and hope it alleviates stress and anxiety about various processes.”

Following graduation, Berrios hopes to pursue a position in women’s health, preferably in an area with a large Spanish-speaking population.

“I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to serve Spanish-speaking populations in Portland and hope this continues in residency and during my career,” she said.

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