Single mom, Ga.-PCOM student, becomes pioneer in student organization

Third-year Ga.-PCOM student Danielle Ward was recently named president of the Student National Medical Association last week as she was installed as the national president at the organization’s annual conference. Ward made history as she is the first osteopathic medical student to assume this position since the SNMA’s founding in 1964. (Special Photo)

Danielle Ward in recent years has trailblazed her way across several areas of society — now she’s added another one.

Ward, a black single mom, recently became the first osteopathic medical student to become president of the Student National Medical Association, which was founded in 1964. A third-year student at the Georgia campus of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee, Ward was installed as the national president at the organization’s annual conference.

“I am extremely appreciative of all the support and encouragement I have received from both our Georgia and Philadelphia PCOM SNMA chapters,” Ward said in a press release. “Having student and administrative members from both campuses attend the annual conference and cheer for me during my inauguration was the best thing ever.”

The SNMA is a student-governed organization with more than 7,000 medical and pre-medical student, resident and physician members. Its chapters are based at allopathic and osteopathic medical schools across the nation, and have an underlying goal of increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians.

Ward expects to graduate next year, and she also writes a blog called “Aspiring Minority Doctor,” in which she describes her journey through medical school as a black single mom to a 10-year-old daughter. She is a 2009 graduate of Louisiana State University with a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a 2013 graduate of the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Conn. where she earned an masters degree in biochemistry.

Ward said she started the blog to serve as a relatable figure to others on the same path.

“I noticed that it is very hard to find minority women in osteopathic medicine (or just medicine in general for that matter) on the web, so I wanted to do something to highlight these women,” she said.

Her goal is to be a source of encouragement and inspiration for young minority females considering medicine.

“I also want to document my journey so that I can have something to look back on one day as a reminder of how far I have come,” she added.

Ward’s involvement with the SNMA spans over a decade as she first became involved with the organization as a pre-medical student. During her medical school career, she has served the organization as the Ga.-PCOM chapter president and as the 2015-2016 national osteopathic schools committee co-chair.