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Guidelines For Writing A Resolution

One of the most unique and powerful privileges of membership in the AMA-RFS is participating in the policymaking process. Policies set at the Annual and Interim Assembly Meetings help set the agenda for the section, giving guidance on projects to pursue, products to develop, and issues to influence. Through the RFS, an idea can become a resolution, which, by majority vote of the Assembly, may become national policy that has the weight of the AMA-RFS, and in some cases the AMA, behind it.

Authoring a resolution can be a wonderful way to get involved in the RFS, and to begin to raise awareness of issues that demand attention from the AMA. The following information is intended to help residents and fellows navigate successfully through the resolution-writing process.

1. What is a resolution?
A resolution is a proposal that asks the AMA-RFS to take a position, and/or an action. Any RFS member can submit a resolution for consideration by the Assembly. Resolutions can address any matter! Resolutions may be submitted by individual delegates, credentialed alternates, or delegations.

A resolution consists of at least one directive ("Resolved clause") accompanied by supporting statements or facts ("Whereas clauses"). Once a resolution is submitted to the RFS, It is debated by the RFS Assembly. If passed by the RFS, the resolution becomes a binding call to action.
Resolutions specify whether they ask the AMA to take specific action or position must first be passed by the AMA-RFS before moving on for consideration by the AMA House of Delegates (HOD). If passed by the HOD, the resolved clauses can lead to legislative proposals and lobbying efforts, national medical recommendations, or other activities through wich the AMA affects health policy.

2. How to write a resolution
The basic elements of a resolution include:

  • Title
  • Author(s)
  • Whereas clauses
  • Resolved clauses
  • References
  • Relevant AMA Policy
  • Fiscal note

You should use the resolution template to document your resolution.

The Title should succinctly state the main issue addressed by the resolution.

The Authors should include the primary author or sponsoring society first, followed by co-authors (co-sponsors). If multiple authors are listed, they should all be prepared to discuss the resolution at the meeting!. Once the resolution is passed by a body of residents, that body may be listed as the introducing party (i.e., if the resolution is passed by the TMA-RFS and forwarded to the AMA-RFS, the resolution would then read: Introduced by: Texas RFS Delegation).

The Whereas clauses should paint a picture of why the topic should be addressed by the AMA-RFS. Whereas clauses will not be voted upon. Instead, they offer an explanation and the rationale of the resolution.

  • Each Whereas clause should be succinct – no more than one sentence long.
  • Whereas clauses can describe the problem that the Resolved clause is intended to address, explain how the Resolved clause will correct the problem, or otherwise defend or support the Resolved clause in any other way.
  • Whereas clauses should flow in a logical order.
  • Statements of fact should be cited with the appropriate reference.

The Resolved clauses will become AMA-RFS policy, and are the most important part of the resolution. Each Resolved clause must be able to stand on its own.

  • Each Resolved clause must contain an actionable request and makes sense when read alone, since the Resolved clause represents the policy that will be adopted. Thus, Resolved clauses should each be a single sentence in length.
  • AMA-RFS resolutions may call on the AMA-RFS to take specific action or position ("Internal Resolution"), may call on the AMA to take a specific action or adopt a policy ("External Resolution"), or may call for both. This is a very important point – if you want the RFS to take an action, the Resolved clause should begin as: "RESOLVED, the AMA-RFS…"; if you want the AMA to take an action, the Resolved clause should read: "RESOLVED, the AMA…"
  • If you want both the AMA-RFS and the AMA to take action, you need a Resolved clause for each. The internal and external positions should appear in separate, free-standing Resolved clauses to facilitate transmittal of the external position to the AMA. Use separate Resolved clauses for internal and external action items.
  • Resolved clauses should be stated in the affirmative, since the negative form is often confusing to the Assembly.
  • Remember that strong Resolved clauses will be specific enough to get your point across, but flexible enough to be relevant in the long-term.

The References and Relevant AMA Policy are extremely important. All resolutions must include pertinent references and clearly state present AMA policy on the issue or explicitly state that no such policy exists. To research AMA Policy, review both the AMA-RFS Digest of Actions and the AMA Policy Finder.

Also try to find relevant statistics, analyses, surveys, commentaries, etc. both for and against your resolution. This information will be used to develop your Whereas clauses, and will guide the defense of your resolution during debate at the RFS Assembly (and possibly AMA-HOD).

You may also contact the RFS representatives on the various AMA-RFS Councils and Committees as they can be invaluable resources on how the RFS and the AMA is currently pursuing many issues.

The Fiscal Note will be estimated by AMA staff and inserted into the resolution.

3. I wrote my resolution! Now what?
Submit your resolution to the RFS:

American Medical Association
Resident and Fellow Services
515 North State Street, 14th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654
(800) 262-3211, ext. 4748
Fax: (312) 464-5845
E-mail: rfs@ama-assn.org

Prior to the Assembly meeting where your resolution will be discussed, you should:

  • Talk to other delegates to recruit support for your resolution.
  • Prepare a brief statement of introduction for the Reference Committee hearing.
  • Be prepared to counter opponents.
  • Be at the reference committee hearing and the Assembly meetings on time.

4. What if I missed the resolution deadline?
All resolutions must be submitted by a deadline determined by the Chair and announced well in advance of the meeting. In general, the resolution deadline is six (6) weeks before the first day of the Assembly business meeting. Resolutions submitted after this date will be considered late resolutions and will require written background describing the importance and urgency of the resolution's concept as well as a convincing reason for the resolution's late submission.

5. Where do I get help?
Please use the following documents to ensure you have completed the necessary steps and documentation.

Resolution Template

Resolution Submission Checklist

Also, the AMA Governing Council and Staff are available year-round to help develop your resolution idea. Specifically, the AMA Alternate Delegate and Policy Analyst can answer questions and provide further resources if needed – don't hesitate to call or e-mail!