It’s a vast wonderful world: National Hispanic Heritage Month Begins

16 Sep 2021

By Chantal Reyna, MD

It is that time of year… National Hispanic Heritage Month!!! From September 15th to October 15th, it is time to recognize the Hispanic and Latinx communities. highlights the celebration of the Hispanic and Latin cultures and provides a list of activities throughout the month. AWS is supporting this month by working with the Latino Surgical Society and creating a Sunday Blog Series dedicated to National Hispanic Heritage Month, written by Hispanic/Latina AWS members. 

As awareness of diversity increases and research aims at health disparities, some questions arise regarding Hispanic vs Latin terminology. Previously, these terms have been used interchangeably in both vernacular and research language starting in the 1970s as a general catch all phrase. I recently recognized this while working on a health disparities talk and noticed that some papers used Hispanic and some used Latina, but did not define the differences if any.  However, there are differences between the two based on colonization and language. Wikipedia states “Hispanic includes people with ancestry from Spain and Latin American Spanish-speaking countries, while Latino includes people from Latin American countries that were formerly colonized by Spain or Portugal.” For me, I like visuals as it allows me to easily see the similarities and differences between the populations:

More recently, language has been shifting. Latinx is a new pan-ethnic, gender neutral term being introduced to describe the U.S. Hispanic and Latin Population. A Pew research study showed that while the label is being applied, only 3% of the described population use the term and less than a quarter have even heard the term. 

With all the changes and increasing awareness, the important thing is that there is a vast array of cultures that should be recognized during National Hispanic Heritage month. Please take the time to educate and immerse yourself in this wonderful world. 


Dr. Chantal Reyna is a fellowship trained, board certified surgeon, specializing in diseases of the breast. She completed general surgery residency at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, University Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Nevada. Following her passion for breast cancer care, she pursued a fellowship in breast surgical oncology at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. She is now the Medical Director of the Crozer Health Breast Program and Chief of Breast Surgery. Her research interests include minimizing axillary surgery. She is a member of the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Society of Breast Surgeons and Association of Women Surgeons. She holds committee positions in several of the organizations. She is an avid soccer fan and enjoys reading and traveling internationally.

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.