Message from the Executive Director:


“Honestly, I didn’t have any obstacles.”
Dr. Muriel Petioni, (1914-2011) – known as mother of Harlem’s health.










Mary J. Mitchell. Executive Director.

Thank you for your interest in the Manhattan Staten Island Area Health Education Center (MSI AHEC) and welcome to our website.

The COVID 19 pandemic of 2020 has had devastating consequences across the world and in our communities. In the United States more than 200,000 have died, disproportionately people of color.  The pandemic further exposed racial disparities in health care and has had an immediate impact on MSI AHEC.  

MSI AHEC’s work is to address the disparities by increasing diversity in the health professions. We are committed to developing and delivering high level health professions education, exposure and experience for underrepresented students, in our region’s medically underserved communities. Historically, we have primarily met our mission through our three primary in-person internship programs with a structured curriculum and placements at health care organizations and hospital facilities throughout New York City.

While the reality of COVID 19 made our work all the more significant, at the same time the restrictions imposed made it impossible to do our work, as we traditionally had. One of our challenges was how do you “reach” out when you can’t “go” out?  For MSI AHEC we faced this obstacle directly.  

Doing what we do best, my Program Director and I developed a comprehensive curriculum, and coordinated with partners, to launch our Summer Virtual Health Bootcamp for the high school/early college students, and the Virtual Friday Lecture Series for our medical students.  We had close to 100 students enroll in our 2020 summer programs. Our diverse group of students were professional, ready to learn, listen and participate.  They were engaged, enthusiastic and encouraging to each other and us.  Our presenters covered topics including exploring health careers, health disparities, public health/COVID, community health advocacy, epidemiology, and emergency medicine. Instructors spoke to our medical students about structural racism, trauma-informed care, developing community-based health care, and more. 

Our work to implement meaningful virtual programs was a great success this summer and continues.  For example, in November, 2020 we will begin our 6 series webinar program and learning exchange on COVID 19. [Check back on this website on or before October 15th for registration information.]

I encourage students to use the information here as you pursue the health profession of your choice. I encourage parents to use this website to identify resources that will assist your children in achieving their career goals, and I encourage professionals in all areas of health care and experience to join us in providing opportunities for underrepresented individuals to experience and learn from the health care industry.

As Executive Director of MSI AHEC I am thankful to all the frontline health care professionals who continue to provide leadership, science and direct care to those impacted by COVID 19.  I am especially thankful, as well, to the next generation of professionals as you start out or continue on your own career journey.  Stay focused and inspired, keep learning and know that your path is paved by those who have walked it before, refusing to be stopped by obstacles – such as Dr. Muriel Petitoni, for whom our Champions of Diversity award is named.   I hope to hear from you as MSI AHEC expands our website resources, learning opportunities and increases diversity in health care and improves access to care in medically underserved communities. 



Mary J. Mitchell

Executive Director