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Rx for Medicine

Alumna LeAnne Roberts advocates on behalf of medical students and for a more effective health care system.

Alumna LeAnne Roberts
Alumna LeAnne Roberts, the chair of the American Medical Association’s 48,000-member Medical Student Section, is a medical student at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s New Jersey Medical School in Newark. Photography by Andrew Haneberg

Before arriving at Rutgers in 2003, LeAnne Roberts had been the perennial president of her high school classes in California, and she came to know how to fight for a cause. Now, as chair of the American Medical Association’s 48,000-member Medical Student Section, Roberts CC’07 applies her talents for building consensus every day.

“We provide students with a platform to launch their profession,” says Roberts, a fifth-year medical student at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s New Jersey Medical School in Newark and the student section’s first African-American female chair. “Whether they’re thinking about becoming the best neurosurgeon in the country or going into policy and advocacy as a physician, we provide a training ground.”

In 2011 Roberts helped galvanize medical students nationwide to petition lawmakers not to cut Medicare funding, which pays most of the cost for graduate medical education in the United States. She’s also spoken out for medical students who graduate with enormous debt. As chair, she has learned the importance of giving doctors a greater voice in the laws and policies governing health care. “Most of the decisions over how medicine is practiced, I was surprised to learn, are decided by people in suits, with a minimum amount of physician input.”

Roberts, who will graduate this spring with an M.D. and a master’s degree in public health, plans to be an obstetrician/gynecologist. “It’s the best mix of everything,” she says. “It’s a little bit of primary care, surgery, psychiatry, and social work. And it’s certainly a lot of advocacy.”
                                                     — Christopher Hann