USF’s “Tech & Innovation in Medicine” Conference

Case Study

Medical school faculty are predominantly white (63.9%) and male (58.6%)

Similar to faculty composition, most active physicians are white (56.2%) and male (64.1%)

Across the country, minority students are underrepresented and face adversity when applying to medical schools. While medical schools are beginning to take steps to alleviate this within their student body, there is still a significant lack of diversity on medical school campuses.

Student-led organizations, such as the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students, MAPS, are helping to overcome this disparity by organizing students and providing them with the education, tools, and inspiration to help them to reach their goals of becoming medical professionals.

The University of San Francisco’s MAPS chapter aimed to inspire and educate underrepresented students by hosting the 2020 MAPS Pre-Professional Health Conference, themed “Tech & Innovation in Medicine.” The conference was designed to “expose attendees to job opportunities in the healthcare field and how related technology & innovation have grown” as well as foster the professional development of minority students and provide a sense of community and belonging in the medical field.

The University of San Francisco’s MAPS chapter “continues to serve as a source for medical education, knowledge, and inspiration to our nation’s future physicians of color.”

With “Tech & Innovation in Medicine,” being the theme of USF’s conference it was no surprise that they reached out to Lisa Padilla, CEO of NewPathVR to present on the use of virtual reality technology in particular within the mental health field. Lisa accepted the offer, saying, “I’m proud to be included as a source for medical education knowledge and inspiration to our nation’s future diverse physicians.”

Virtual Technology Education

During the conference, Lisa’s lecture on virtual reality technology and mental health gave aspiring medical students a glimpse into how virtual reality can be applied as a tool for assessing and treating mental health conditions both clinically and at home. The lecture provided students with an overview of the definition of virtual reality, showing the VR headsets that are currently in the market, as well as presenting how virtual reality is being used by both medical providers and patients alike for addressing stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.

Her lecture gave students not only a new understanding of the use of virtual reality in the medical field but also opened their eyes to how innovative technology can be applied in medicine in the future. This showcases the work done at NewPathVR as well as directing aspiring medical students, from underrepresented minorities, toward the importance of imagining the future possibilities of virtual reality in medicine.