Health Equity Leadership: A Conversation with Dr. Veronica Svetaz

Nov 12, 2020

We all do better when we all do better 

Paul Wellstone 

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As social change leaders work to be more inclusive and address structures and systems of racism and oppression in our communities, we take a look at one of the important ones to tackle - health care. This week we discuss bias, leadership and health equity with Dr. Veronica Svetaz.  Dr. Svetaz is a physician at Hennepin County Medical Center (where she also works in the Center for Health Equity Leadership) and an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. She is nationally recognized for her work as the Director of Aqui Para Ti youth development program and her extensive research and writings. Dr. Svetaz was recently named as one of the seven examples of local leadership by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. In our conversation we:

  • Listen to the story of Dr. Svetaz’s journey that started in Latin America with a deep spirit of doing things together in community
  • Hear about the impact of being a teenager under military government shaped Dr. Svetaz’s ideas around democracy, advocacy and caring for each other  
  • Learn how Dr. Svetaz came to the United States and began working with adolescents and how that turned into a fellowship and residency 
  • Hear Dr. Svetaz discuss her experiences with the role of women in leadership and how that impacted her career choices  
  • Understand the connection she shared with Latino families and how she learned the importance of vicarious resilience and gratitude
  • Learn about the difference between chronic conditions and chronic illness and how working with community in strength-based manner supported her in becoming an expert in the area of health equity
  • Hear about the important role of leaders, but how leadership is one of the most difficult things to change
  • Hear about inclusive spaces and how social change leaders can become more aware of structures and systems of oppression in the communities including understanding the bias, discrimination, stereotyping and racism experienced by marginalized communities 
  • Reflect on the transformative power of deeply listening and human sharing 
  • Understand how health equity is rooted in being aware of and starting work the social determinants of health 
  • Learn how Dr. Svetaz defines and supports activism and activation in patients


In this episode we reference: Book, Promoting Health Equity Among Racially and Ethnically Diverse Adolescents 


More about Dr. Veronica Svetaz:

Maria Veronica Svetaz, MD, MPH, FSAHM, FAAFP is a Faculty Family Practice and Adolescent Health Boarded physician at HCMC Department of Family and Community Medicine, and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Minnesota. From Argentina, Dr. Svetaz completed her medical school, Internal Medicine and Chief Residency at the University of Buenos Aries, Argentina. She came to the University of Minnesota in 1996 to join the Division of Pediatrics and Adolescent Health LEAH training program for a two-year fellowship. At the same time, she completed a Master in Public Health, Maternal, and Child Major and completed her Family Medicine Residency at Region's Hospital. She was a member of the National team that drafted the 2002 "Consensus Statement on Health Care Transitions for Young Adults with Special Needs," endorsed by AAP/AAFP/ACP/ASIN (published in Pediatrics, 2002). She had been the Medical Director of Aqui Para Ti/Here for You youth development program since its beginning in 2002. This program has received multiple National Awards, most importantly the 2014 Millar Award for Innovation in Adolescent Care, by the Society of Adolescent Health (SAHM). It is currently overseeing a system-wide initiative to make HCMC (safety Net Hospital) teen-friendly. Her research includes working with bilingual youth, chronic illness and youth, issues around parenting that youth, educating practitioners to better work with minority youth, on how to use CBPR (Community Based Participatory Research) and how to support Health Equity. She is currently the Chair of the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) 's National Diversity Committee (authored 2 Position Papers on Health Equity) and is a National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health's Board Member. She sits on the Health Equity Advisory Board at Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) and is also part of DHS Behavioral Health Homes' Advisory Committee. 

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