Women have a responsibility to lift others as they rise
A natural activist, whether for HPV vaccination campaigns or against human trafficking, Dr. Ana Viamonte Ros loves to bring together organizations and partners created along the way — the medical school, her hospital, state, and national associations.
"Everyone benefits from these efforts, and it is very exciting for me," she says. "If you do not do anything, you do not fail, and if you do not fail then you are not trying something new."
Currently, the Associate Dean for Women in Medicine and Science at the Florida International University, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Dr. Viamonte is the first generation Cuban American woman to become the first surgeon general in the state of Florida. She described this as both a learning experience and frustrating at the same time. She expressed learning a tremendous amount from incredible public health workers who are exceptionally committed and dedicated, yet a lot of times do not get the consideration that they should have.
HPV campaign champion
Dr. Viamonte is actively involved in promoting the HPV campaign. She was responsible for a webinar hosted by the American Medical Women's Association, moderating sessions and actively participating on panels. She took the initiative to medical school and hospital partners to ensure that the resources were available free of charge to everyone who was interested in learning. She recently supported the initiative to present the first North American HPV Awareness Week, January 22-28, 2019, with the goal to increase public and practitioner awareness of HPV, HPV-related diseases, and the importance of HPV vaccination. Over the years, Dr. Viamonte has found it exciting to bring together all of the different organizations and partners created along the way; from the medical school to the hospital she works in, to national, state and local associations; "everyone was able to benefit from these efforts to support this very important initiative, and it is very exciting for me that I was able to do something like this," she noted.
Lifting others up
Dr. Viamonte strongly believes in women supporting other women. She feels it's an obligation and responsibility if a woman has the ability, the connections, and the resources to help those who are coming behind her, to open doors for them, to promote them, and to endorse them. Dr. Viamonte has always been interested in community service since she was a young girl. She remembers tutoring in underserved areas. During her medical school years, she volunteered at a very large homeless initiative in South Florida called Camillus House. To this day, she continues to volunteer there, in addition to serving as their board vice chair. To her, giving back and helping the community is a civic and moral obligation, a value she has passed on to her children too. One of the many things she is proud of is her daughter's strong values for activism. With learned values from her mother, she started an organization called circle of women to provide educational opportunities to women and girls in underdeveloped countries. This organization builds schools, trains teachers and provides all the required educational resources for students.
A gifted convener
At this stage of her life, Dr. Viamonte finds that being able to convene a lot of partners both locally and nationally, and aligning them under different initiatives has been really important for her activism. She, together with the national board members of the American Medical Women's Association spearheaded an initiative on human trafficking through Camillus. The 2018 global report on trafficking in persons by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes shows that the number of trafficking victims in the United States has been increasing. Dr. Viamonte and her team worked with the state attorney's office on immigration services and law enforcement, to assign a wing for trafficked women at the homeless shelter. They provide medical care, substance abuse counseling, immigration services, as well as employment opportunities. In addition, Dr. Viamonte mobilized her female students to promote human trafficking projects. Together with her students they developed a CME credit grantee class on human trafficking as part of their activism work. This class has become a required course for all nursing professionals in the state of Florida to educate them on how to respond to the problem. They use the training manual they developed to give presentations through the South Florida hospitals and healthcare association to many of their members. Working with the American medical women association, they were able to post awareness videos and present at national conferences on human trafficking.
Modeling a better world
Dr. Viamonte continues to wonder how she can impart to others, not just her actions but also her words to make them strong and resilient. One important lesson learned from Dr. Viamonte is that "it is okay to fall, and it is okay to fail," she said. To fail according to her is a sign that you are trying and doing something new. "If you do not do anything, you do not fail, and if you do not fail then you are not trying something new," she adds. Dr. Viamonte has experienced huge failures and losses and hopes that her response would help others navigate around their own losses and failures. She believes that the most important thing that one can be is a good example.
Do your best, do the best for others
Doing your best and doing the best for others is of great importance to Dr. Viamonte – a value she carries on from her family. She emphasizes that whatever ideas, whatever God-given talents or opportunities one has, take advantage of them, be grateful, but also pay it forward. "Make sure that with whatever challenge or opportunity you have had, you are able to help others," she urged.