Medical School Life

How medical student advocacy in 2023 will reshape medicine’s future

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

Medical students are shaping the future of medicine through numerous avenues, including impacting AMA policy on matters that pertain to their present as medical students and their future as physicians.

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Medical students were behind a number of resolutions that led to AMA policy changes this year, at the AMA Annual Meeting in June and the AMA Interim Meeting in November. Here are some highlights of AMA policy changes related to medical education in which medical students played a role.

  1. To thwart medical student burnout, make it easier to seek time off  

    1. When time off is needed, medical students generally have little recourse. Medical schools often lack standardized institutional policies for the implementation of excused absences. The level of disclosure required by the students, who may not feel comfortable sharing mental health concerns due to professional stigma, is an added barrier to the pursuit of well-being. Learn more about policy adopted by the AMA House of Delegates to make it easier for medical students to get time off.
  2. Find better ways to do medical student clerkship grading methods

    1. The subjective nature of grading medical students on performance during clinical rotations has come under scrutiny for its unreliability. Research indicates that despite the weighting of clinical clerkship grades in residency applicant selection, these grades are currently inconsistent and biased.
    2. In an effort to move toward a more equitable, objective clerkship grading system, the delegates adopted an AMA Council on Medical Education report at the Annual Meeting. The report was a result of a resolution previously set forth by the AMA Medical Student Section (AMA-MSS). Learn more about the policy’s call for more valid and unbiased summative assessments for clinical clerkships.
  3. Medical schools must have defined leave policies

    1. Roughly two-thirds of medical schools lack defined parental leave policies. Without explicit, equitable leave time, students are forced to make difficult decisions about family planning and other family and personal matters. Furthermore, policies related to compassionate leave are equally undefined at medical schools and residency programs.
    2. Citing a lack of national guidance on leave in medical education and medicine, frustrating both learners and physicians, an AMA Council on Medical Education report adopted at the Interim Meeting—the result of a separate AMA-MSS resolution—made several recommendations related to improved leave policies for medical students and residents, including a call for 12 weeks of paid parental, family and medical necessity leave in a 12-month period.
  4. Put a stop to legacy admissions

    1. The use of legacy status as a screening tool for medical school can have discriminatory outcomes. New AMA policy—introduced by the AMA-MSS and adopted the Annual Meeting—recognizes that an applicant may voluntarily disclose legacy status during interviews as a reason for interest in a particular medical school, but the AMA stands against formal and specific legacy questions by medical schools in the application process.

In other action prompted by AMA-MSS advocacy, the House of Delegates took steps to:

  • Give medical students a choice of health plans.
  • Beat stigma by automatically giving residents mental health screening.
  • Help the many women physicians who wind up needing IVF.
  • Boost family planning and fertility support for physicians.

To catch up with these items and other news from the House of Delegates’ gatherings this year in Chicago and National Harbor, Maryland, read our highlights from the 2023 AMA Annual Meeting and from the 2023 AMA Interim Meeting.

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