If Mirsha Stiven Has Her Way, No One Will Be Underserved
Mirsha Stiven is part of the inaugural class of NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) at Arkansas State University (A-State). In addition to a passion for osteopathic medicine, she is an accomplished dancer and practices the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira. She recently sat down with The Box to share her thoughts on her career trajectory and the chance to bring medicine to underserved communities.
Why did you choose NYIT?
I decided to attend NYIT because of its mission to meet the demand for primary care physicians in the rural areas of the Arkansas Delta region. I aspire to serve as an advocate for disadvantaged and underserved populations in medicine. As a researcher in the Health Disparities research team at the University of Florida, I investigated psychological and behavioral factors associated with maintaining a healthy lifestyle among low-income minorities, and cultural sensitivity in healthcare delivery. My background with medically underserved communities exposed me to the problem of disparities in healthcare related to geography and class, and I wanted to be associated with a program taking real steps to address this problem. I also thought it would be cool to be a part of the inaugural class!
What excites you most about osteopathic medicine?
I find the potential of gaining emotional, mental, and spiritual rewards exciting. It’s invigorating and encouraging that one day I may have the privilege to serve my community through the treatment and care of my patients. In addition, I also find the whole-person approach to the treatment and care of patients very fascinating. I appreciate the need to address the whole person and not just what physically ails them. The osteopathic philosophy of medicine recognizes that the body has the ability to heal itself, and as physicians we serve as facilitators in that healing process.
What kinds of organizations and activities are you involved in outside of class?
One of my roles is committee chair for the Minorities in Medicine committee. I help in their mission to provide for student participation and involvement in academic, professional, and co-curricular activities. I am also president of the Diversity in Medicine pillar, a group that serves as an umbrella organization for various committees geared towards the promotion of both the diversity of osteopathic medical students and the greater representation of underrepresented populations within the osteopathic medical profession. Through this organization, we oversee groups including Minorities in Medicine and the South Asian and American Medical Women’s Associations on campus.
Project H.E.A.R.T (health, education, advocacy, and training program) is a mini medical summer camp, where I served as camp counselor to high school juniors and seniors in a three-day camp hosted by NYIT on the Arkansas State campus. This program was designed for students to explore different healthcare careers, experience the day in the life of a medical student, and learn how they can make an impact in their own communities
As lead admission ambassador for NYITCOM, I assist in the office of admissions with recruitment of prospective medical students in an official capacity. I also serve as a host to prospective students and campus visitors on campus tours and panel discussions, and I'm a contact, resource, and mentor to prospective and incoming medical students.
You traveled to Haiti through a program organized by the Center for Global Health. What was that like?
As a Haitian-American student, it was a great experience to partake in the 2017 medical mission trip to Haiti as part of the global health program. I felt both fulfilled to have the opportunity to give back, and also thankful to reconnect with my roots. This program has allowed me to start building relationships with other professionals who are both in the field of global health and beyond my immediate network.
During the mission trip, we spent one week in Jacmel. One of my roles was to help set up numerous mobile clinics throughout the community. The second week we spent in the countryside in Peredo, where we saw patients at a local community hospital. While in Haiti, I worked side by side with two of our faculty members, Dr. Brookshield Laurent and Dr. William Blazey. Thanks to these two doctors, I learned a tremendous amount about medicine and medical delivery, and the great value in osteopathic treatment in a global healthcare setting. They also both exemplified what it means to be a culturally sensitive physician. Their passion for serving medically underserved populations and enthusiasm strategizing ways to target some of the medical barriers of these populations inspires me.
What is one thing about you people might be surprised to find out?
People might be surprised to learn about my involvement in both the University of Florida’s World Dance program and the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira. I originally used dance as a way to stay in shape but discovered that it could be used as a space to have discussions about health and wellness. Through this program, I had the opportunity to work alongside artists, master dancers, and musicians from Brazil, Chad, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast. I was also a soloist in the West African Dance Ensemble “Agbedidi” for three years as an undergraduate and performed at various schools and community outreach events. As an independent study, I also assisted in teaching and choreographing performances at the University of Florida and local community colleges. While an undergraduate at the University of Florida, I also became passionate about the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira. Capoeira is a martial art that incorporates aspects of dance, acrobatics, and music. After being introduced to this martial art while pursuing my minor in dance, I decided that this was an art that I wanted to continue to practice. I have been practicing it for the past six years.