Dr. Susana Morales, director of the Weill Cornell Medicine Diversity Center of Excellence, has been named the 2022 Physician of the Year by the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) for her continued leadership to improve Hispanic health and efforts to advance health equity.
“Over the years, I’ve seen the National Hispanic Medical Association grow from a small group to a national organization and receiving this award is a great honor,” said Dr. Morales, who is also an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Established in 2018 as part of the Cornell Center for Health Equity, the Diversity Center of Excellence focuses on increasing the diversity of the health care workforce. This past year, Dr. Morales has worked tirelessly on promoting COVID-19 vaccine education and community outreach. “I don't think I fully understood the concerns that people would have at first and how deep the anxiety would be,” she said. “And so I knew trusted messengers, health care providers in the community, were going to be an important part of this effort.”
Through the Diversity Center of Excellence and with help from colleagues at various other New York City medical schools, community partners, and internal partners at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, Dr. Morales launched the COVID-19 Community Education and Empowerment Internship. The program, which is conducted online, focuses on teaching STEM students about vaccine science and the dissemination of COVID-19 information in communities. So far, more than 1,200 students from across the globe have participated in the internship.
“The pandemic highlighted the reality of health disparities, given how people of color were disproportionality impacted,” Dr. Morales said. “We cannot forget the lessons we’ve learned and try and move the needle and promote health equity for all. And I’m proud that NHMA has been focused on this for decades.”
The Physician of the Year Award will be presented at NHMA’s 25th annual conference March 24-27.