AMA-MSS Chair's Column
April 2013In light of the recent tragedy, your MSS Governing Council would like to send our condolences to all of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Our country has been through many heart wrenching moments in this short century that have tested our strength and vitality. Yet in every instance, resilience reverberates around our nation and we unify as one to lift each other up in a time of need. We would also like to honor the first responders, essential personnel, and members of law enforcement in the Boston area who are continuing to care for the injured and maintaining security. Your courage and dedication are truly appreciated by all.
To find out how you can be of assistance to the city of Boston, visit Boston Marathon Bombings: How to Help.
The MSS Governing Council
Today as I was drifting off to sleep on a flight to my last residency interview, I was thinking about how glad I was to be near the finish line of the biggest challenge of my life. Suddenly, an announcement was made by the flight attendant overhead - “if there are any medical personnel on board, we need your assistance in the back of the plane. Please ring your call bell”. Oh crap, I thought. Am I considered medical personnel? I am a lowly fourth year medical student who hasn’t touched a patient in almost two months! What if there are no EMT’s, nurses, PA’s, or physicians to be found on board and it is just me? For a split second, I cursed myself for my sleepy thoughts, but then I quickly pushed my call button to assist. As I made my way to the back of the aircraft, I secretly breathed a sigh of relief seeing that two other individuals (a physician and a nurse) were already tending to the elderly passenger.
For some of you, this scenario would have brought you pure joy as you dashed toward the patient and jumped over the beverage cart. For others, you might have nervously remained in your seats, hoping there was someone more knowledgeable around. Then there are those of you, like me, cautiously floating between the excitement of finishing medical school and the trepidation of being someone’s physician in a few months. These actions are certainly representative of the spectrum of behaviors physicians in training tend to display. Further, these can translate into the categories of our own membership: the engaged member who dashes off and participates heavily in a variety of activities, the passive member who sits idly by while benefitting from the AMA’s national presence, and the cautious member who participates when they can, but could certainly do more.
2013 is a brand new year and there are a number of ways to help move the MSS forward. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, challenge yourself to increase your “frequent flyer miles” within the AMA. Your region leaders are working diligently to plan your Annual Region Meeting, and what better way is there to form new relationships with students in your area than attending? We are also just a few weeks away from MSS Advocacy Day and with the national debt issues on the table, your presence in DC is fairly important to get our message across. Finally, as you head back to school, think about how you can create solidarity, especially around causes that are important to your institution, your state, and the MSS as a whole. Challenging and exciting times are ahead; perhaps you will be placed in a scenario that may catch you off guard. Will you, your section, or our body be ready to step up? I think we are certainly all capable of doing so.
Happy New Year!
The 2012 Election season is well underway and as physicians in training, there are plenty of relevant issues on the table for debate. Most of us understand that while the Presidential election reigns front and center, the Congressional, state, and local elections are equally, if not more important. As we gear up for Interim 2012 in beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii, we should not only focus on MSS policy and our role in the AMA Equation, but we should be thinking more broadly about what is important for our patients, our profession, and the American Healthcare System.
In the U.S., healthcare = economics, and certainly the economy is a major issue in this election. The stability of institutions and physician practices translates to jobs for thousands of Americans; jobs that are at stake if the impending Medicare cut is realized. Access to healthcare and preventative services dictates the health of patients and perhaps their ability to maintain employment to provide for their families. And certainly, federal and state deficits coupled with a shaky financial industry affects our ability as students to finance our very own medical education.The excuses concerning the time constraints of being a student, the distance between home and your medical institution, and the feeling that your voice does not matter are frankly unreasonable. Absentee ballots or changing an address via voter registration solves the first two issues. The third is slightly more complex, but, the voices of nearly 48,000 young constituents can make an impact. As voter registration deadlines are quickly approaching, I hope you all ensure that your voice counts. In fact, I encourage each local section of the MSS to run voter registration drives at your schools and in your communities. You could even offer to host candidate forums or a debate between candidates seeking local offices. Irrespective of your political beliefs or party affiliation, it is critical that you exercise a fundamental privilege afforded to you. Do not sit idly by this November. Visit the AMA Election Guide for information about candidates and state issues. To find out about state deadlines or to register, visit The Election Assistance Commission.
Hello Fellow Students!
My name is LeAnne Roberts and I have the privilege of serving you as the 2012-2013 Chair of the MSS! This is an exciting time to be involved in organized medicine given the certain changes ahead in our healthcare system. As the leading organization for medical students in the country, it is imperative that we consistently engage with our membership through multiple mediums in order to best represent the needs of our section in the AMA, as well as physicians in training as a whole. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Obama Administration by upholding the major tenets of the Affordable Care Act yesterday. Our Section should be pleased with the outcome, as the AMA's support for universal coverage originated from policy in the MSS. We continue to have our work cut out for us this year as stakeholders in the ongoing debate of healthcare reform, but we are excited to elevate the conversation concerning issues important to medical students and the healthcare of the nation.
Your Governing Council (GC) will be utilizing this page to update you about where we are on our national initiatives and priorities, as well as highlighting the wonderful work exhibited by you as individual members, through our sections at institutions, or through our regions. You have elected a fantastic group of students to serve on the GC, and we are all truly looking forward to the work that is to come. Our job is to address your concerns while representing and moving our section forward within the organization. To that end, please always feel free to contact us about what is on your mind. All of the contact information for the GC can be found here. Did you also know that you can submit a question or concern to the GC in its entirety? Don't be shy and instead, be proactive by using the GC Action Item Request form.
We just wrapped up an exciting Annual Meeting in Chicago, our theme being "Skills for Practice: Beyond the Science of Medical School". What did you think of the meeting? Be sure to complete the MSS Post Annual 2012 Evaluation by July 6 and let us know your thoughts. As we are in the planning stages for our Interim Meeting in beautiful Honolulu, HI, we would really appreciate your feedback about our MSS meetings and programming.
In the meantime, if you need anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at (916) 412-5137. I am more than happy to help you in any way that I can. Until we meet again, stay well, work hard in the library or on the floors, and take some time to enjoy the warm weather wherever you may be.
WE are the future of medicine. Is America ready for us?
LeAnne J. Roberts
Chair, AMA-MSS Governing Council
I have a challenge for you this month: think of everyone you meet as a potential patient.
What do I mean by this? The other day, I had to have my stove replaced. My maintenance guy and I started talking, and after finding out that I was in medical school, he started telling me his list of issues. He’d love to see his doctor but he’s already had to declare bankruptcy once to pay for his medical bills and he was in the middle of filing again. “What did you want to talk to him about?” I asked.
“How to live a healthy life.”
While he finished installing my oven, we then discussed some easy lifestyle adjustments he could make, and I logged into my med school’s website to print out some handouts about healthier living.
This past week was the AMA’s Week of Wellness. My challenge to YOU is to make it last longer than a week. Any medical student, from the now seasoned first year to the about-to-graduate M4, can provide advice about healthier living in settings outside the clinic. How can you help your community’s health today?
As always, feel free to call/text me with any questions at 313-920-2564 or email at email@example.com.
MSS Chair’s Column
My mom gives great medical advice. From talking to other future physicians, it’s remarkable how many mothers are great doctors. I recently broke down in my battle against her and actually went to a doctor to get an antibiotic for a sinus infection that had lasted a couple weeks. Upon finally getting my script for Amoxicillin filled for free, I had to laugh at her response: “Amoxicillin? That’s not strong enough. I would have given you a Z-Pac.”
My mom is an art teacher by the way.
However, this week she taught me that valuable medical advice can come from anywhere. She asked me if my dad should be taking a statin, given the concern that it may cause diabetes. I told her that I wasn’t sure and that I’d look into it. It turns out that a number of news sources have looked into it for me, and there is a serious question as to whether or not the medications cause diabetes, and whether the risks outweigh the benefits.
There are serious problems facing medicine in the years ahead. We do overprescribe. The most prescribed medicine in the USA is Vicodin. The pain and poor health of this country are being covered up, and we need to spend more time healing and less time just pushing papers. We need to get back to caring for our patients.
A patient that I saw this week on my last clinical rotation is stuck in the hospital because her insurance company won’t pay for IV antibiotic therapy at home. That therapy would cost less than one day in the hospital, but that’s the policy of the insurance company. These kind of things make me mad.
We need to fix these problems. That’s why I’m a future doctor and a member of the AMA. We can’t take care of these things on our own. To be perfectly honest, we’re probably going to need our mothers too. Together we are stronger, especially if we reach beyond just fellow doctors in our work for change.
- T.R. Eckler
January 2012 MSS Chair's Column
New Year’s Reflections and Resolutions
The arrival of the new year provides a welcome moment to reflect on the year past and an opportunity to lay out goals for the future. As your AMA-MSS Chair, I look back on 2011 with great pride at the incredible work done at every level that continued to reach more medical students and add their voice to the over 47,000 medical students we represent. Interim 2011 was one of the best meetings I can remember, with record numbers of students coming to New Orleans and innovative programs on global and public health, leadership, and the rebuilding of the health system in that city after Katrina. That energy from that meeting and the continued challenges to student debt and GME funding for residency positions resulted in a two-day advocacy push that resulted in over 50,000 phone calls and emails to Congress from future doctors. Voicemails on Capitol Hill stopped responding because of the volume of the response, and the coordinated efforts of the AMA MSS, RFS, and many other medical student leaders from other medical specialties. Lastly, 2011 brought about the election of the next Chair, LeAnne Roberts and Trustee, Malini Daniel, two remarkable women leaders ready to take this organization to the next level.
It is a new year though, and with just a few short months left to lead this remarkable organization, the time to set new goals and refocus our efforts is upon us. My resolution is that you will see even more great things from the AMA-MSS this year, thanks to the remarkable leaders at all levels. Lobby Day 2012 promises to be the most important in recent memory as an election approaches and serious concerns about medical student debt and residency funding persist. New initiatives in public health, entrepreneurship, and service will continue to open up the remarkable experience of the MSS to new members and new perspectives. As always though, the strength of the organization will continue to come from its members and the friendships that result from attending regional or national meetings.
This is my challenge to you all for your new year’s resolutions. Attend your region meetings. Be an advocate at Lobby Day. Make time to be at Annual in Chicago in June. If you bring with you the concerns you have about your future and the things that you’re passionate about, we will show you ways to get involved, make a difference, and have a voice in the process. If you want to make a difference before you get there, bring some friends.
Happy New Year to all. Best of luck getting back to the books and back on the wards. Work hard, be nice, and take care of your fellow students. They’re going to be your colleagues for a long time. Oh, and remind them to join the AMA. Together we are stronger.
AMA-MSS Chair 2011-2012
Applying for residency is pretty simple. After four years of medical school, they still want you to answer the same question you were asked at the beginning:
Why do you want to be a doctor?
The only problem is, this new round of interviewers will put descriptive words in front of doctor, or change the name entirely, and expect you to explain why you were born to be a neurosurgeon, dermatologist, radiation oncologist, pediatrician, or family medicine physician.
I enjoy taking this question to the first year students or the applicants, because they are so often ready to explain why they want to be a doctor. Ask them what kind of doctor they’re going to be though, and either they’re assured of a career I can bet they won’t actually end up in, or they don’t even know where to start. It makes me feel better about how great a journey the process of medical school is, and that I’m ready for the next step.
Looking back now on a cold fall night as I doll out candy to neighborhood kids and wonder about the public health dilemma that is Halloween, I consider how the AMA shaped that journey for me. When confronted with the question throughout medical school of what kind of doctor did I want to be, I eventually went with this standby response:
I want to be a great doctor. One that takes the best care of patients, and enjoys his work. I also want to be a doctor who’s involved, one who can shape policy, be an advocate for his patients, and serve his community. Whatever career in medicine I found that would let me do that, I figured it would have to be fulfilling.
That’s where my involvement with the AMA kept coming in. When as a first year I wanted to get exposure to students outside of my medical school, I attended my first AMA conference. Then, as a second year, I looked to the AMA and the MSS for resources on health policy and politics in light of the election to empower the votes of my classmates. In third year I took the opportunity to pursue the Government Relations Advocacy Fellowship for a year to better understand the policies and politics that will shape medicine for years to come. Now, in my third and fourth years, I have the honor of serving as Chair, trying to extend such opportunities to other future physicians.
The AMA remains a place where medical students can bring anything they are passionate about to the next level. It doesn’t matter if that is a service project, a policy initiative, or a search for a mentor or training in leadership. This is a place to go bigger. It is a place where you can learn things that won’t be covered in your medical school curriculum, see how the future is shaping up for medicine, and have a voice to shape that process. The volume of experience, knowledge, and capacity for greatness in a single AMA-MSS meeting is something which still exceeds my ability to express in words, and I’m on my 9th attempt next week in New Orleans. Being a part of the future of medicine, in what I think is the most unified voice for the soul of medicine as a member of the AMA-MSS has been a rewarding and humbling experience for me, and I would recommend it to anyone who is still working out the answer to that “what kind of a doctor are you going to be?” question. If you want something that’s going to give you something interesting to say while interviewing for residency, come see what the AMA-MSS is working on these days.
Safe travels to all heading to Interim in New Orleans or out on the residency interview trail.
AMA-MSS Chair 2011-2012
Why should I join the AMA?
It's a question I've heard a few hundred times. I've thought long and hard about the answer to the question. I've come up with my own over the years as I've thought about why I got involved, why I stay involved, and why I've continued to take time to be a part of this incredible organization. I've found that my reasons resonate with some people, while others have completely different reasons for joining the AMA and taking on the work of defending the future of medicine.
With that in mind, I figured this month I'd provide you with the 25 best reasons to join the AMA that I could come up with. I had help from many other medical student leaders, past, present, and future on this, but do take a moment to consider if you knew all the reasons you should encourage others to join at the start of this new year of medical school.
Honestly, I know you're busy, so if you want to save time, just join here. Otherwise I look forward to hearing more reasons to join in the months ahead as we work on the challenges facing medicine and prepare for the AMA-MSS Interim Meeting in New Orleans, LA in November. Good luck with your studies, and enjoy the journey.
24. The AMA has resources. Just look at the resources you can sign up for by email.
23. Free Netter's Anatomy Flash Cards when you join. Discounts for Boards – First Aid for Step 1 and Step 2, Rapid Review Pathology, Kaplan Q Bank and more. Pays for your membership.
22. Understanding health care in a way you never would have otherwise through the updates provided by the AMA-MSS GRAF about the policy and politics of medicine in Washington, DC. (Join the Health Policy & News listserv to receive GRAF updates)
21. Come to one meeting, state, national, or regional. It will change your knowledge base and understanding of the future of medicine.
Preparing to be a doctor.
20. The AMA didn't get you into medical school, but the AMA will help you at every step of the way to be the best doctor you could be.
19. If you don't want to think that far ahead, and are just thinking about what kind of doctor you want to be, the AMA just rolled out a brand new guide to help you figure out your specialty.
18. If you already know what kind of doctor you want to be, the online guide of residency programs put out by the AMA – FREIDA - is the foremost source of info on every program in the country.
17. Preparing to be a doctor means more than just knowing what's in the textbooks. Knowledge of current issues in medicine is always clutch for attendings, and Morning Rounds and JAMA are there for you.
16. Meet the future leaders of medicine in policy, politics, ethics, and research today at one of the three AMA-MSS National Meetings. Great initiatives start with a cup of coffee and one good idea.
15. You have no time as a medical student. The AMA's policy staff in Chicago and DC breaks down the key issues and major events for you on a regular basis in the AMA Wire.
14. If you have an issue that you feel demands the full advocacy and policy of the AMA and the MSS, then write a resolution. A student wrote the resolution that made the primary advocacy goal of the AMA to become "Cover the Uninsured." Check out the policy written by students here.
13. Spend a year in Washington, DC being the primary voice for medical students and residents in the AMA's DC Office. Apply to be the AMA Government Relations Advocacy Fellow.
12. Spend the summer in Washington, DC as an AMA Government Relations Intern with the medical specialty of your choice, or apply for the Discovery Health Fellowship.
11. If you're in medicine, you're in politics. If you don't show up when the decisions are being made, someone else will decide for you. Want to be that voice for medicine? Come to the AMA-MSS Lobby Day 2012 in Washington, DC.
10. Be a leader from where you stand now. Run your chapter at your local school, and take on the challenges you face in your community while using AMA support and funding to do it.
9. Join a national commitment by the students, residents and physicians of the AMA-MSS to community service. Join our National Service Project and make a bigger statement about the future of medicine.
8. Come to a national meeting and take part in the AMA-MSS Leadership School. Learn to be a leader now, and how to develop the skills that will make you a better doctor in the future.
7. The AMA is a gateway to county, state, and specialty medical societies, which can bring together incredible resources and contacts, like this list of international medical opportunities.
6. Consider any of the hundreds of opportunities for leadership available through the AMA and the AMA-MSS, with commitments ranging from a few hours a month to a full year of work.
5. The AMA takes a look at the future of medicine each year and decides strategic goals for the year to come with the input of members. Take a look at the plan for the year ahead.
4. The AMA-MSS has its own goals focused on the specific needs of students and the challenges facing them in the upcoming year. Join us in accomplishing these goals this year.
3. The AMA offers over $1.5 million in scholarships, grants and internships for medical students. Talk about investing in the future.
2. There are so many other reasons, if you haven't found a good enough one yet, take a look at these two pages and see if the benefits of being a member or the the services members get can't change your mind.
1. The best reason is always going to be your reasons. The 47,000 members of the MSS and all the physicians of the AMA welcome your voice, your intelligence, and your membership. We are the future of medicine. Together we are stronger. Join Today.
Please visit the Medical Student Online Community to offer commentary or questions regarding the August AMA-MSS Chair's Column.