How the New Generation of Doctors Will Approach Gun Violence

Marcia Frellick


June 06, 2018

Issue Is Both Personal and Professional, SNMA President Says

Danielle M. Ward is a DO candidate who graduated in May from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine—Georgia Campus. She is also president of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). The organization issued a statement on gun violence in 2012; however, gun violence has long been prioritized in its advocacy efforts, she said.

She told Medscape that SNMA wants students to know that together they can increase public awareness of the danger of guns, take part in mental illness screening efforts, and advocate for and support gun control legislation that will achieve the following:

  • Regulate access, including banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines;

  • Mandate background checks, including sales at gun shows; and

  • Establish appropriate minimum age requirements, mandatory licensing and training, and child access prevention.

The issue is also personal for Ward, who is interested in a surgical career. "As a surgeon, you see the gunshot victims and the impact on the families and the impact on healthcare resources. It's catastrophic." She hopes that advocacy efforts now will help change the increasingly common narrative and reduce the need for gun violence prevention to be a top area for advocacy efforts.

"Healthcare professionals should be aware of the importance of their roles as providers and advocates and use their credibility to promote practices and policies based on accurate data that will contribute to firearm violence prevention," she said. But when prevention fails, she knows her chosen specialty will put her face to face with the victims. "I will be the one working to save the lives of individuals impacted by this," she said.