Medical Students

3 ways the AMA enables medical students to grow as advocates

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

AMA News Wire

3 ways the AMA enables medical students to grow as advocates

Apr 29, 2024

Medical students have a voice. During the recent AMA Medical Student Advocacy Conference, hundreds of students used that voice in conversations about key health care issues with legislators and their staff.

During the conference, a panel of AMA member medical student leaders offered guidance on how engagement with the AMA can refine a student’s voice as an advocate and shape their careers for decades to come.

Meet legislators, use your voice for change

The AMA Medical Student Advocacy Conference offers advocacy training, access to legislators and exclusive networking opportunities. 

Now the diversity, equity and inclusion officer of the AMA Medical Student Section (AMA-MSS) Governing Council, Charlie Adams got started as a regional delegate in the section. It is not hard to get involved in advocacy as a medical student AMA member, Adams said.

“As medical students we are still learning and growing as professionals, but we have a lot to say,” said Adams, a third-year medical student at Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“For students, there are 1,000 leadership positions. I applied for a lot of them at first and you don’t always get [the position] but it was a chance to get involved.”

Adams—who in addition to his work with AMA-MSS is an Alternate Delegate for the Missouri delegation to the AMA House of Delegates—also touted the chance for mentorship that can help you learn the ins and outs of effective advocacy and advance your career.

“Through the AMA, almost immediately from being involved and by going to meetings, I connected with a mentor who was a national leader in my specialty. The more involved you get, the more things like that will happen.”   

Learn more with the AMA about medical student leadership opportunities.

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As an MD-PhD student, Natasha Topolski—who chairs the AMA-MSS Governing Council—is in her sixth year of training. As a member of the AMA-MSS during the COVID-19 pandemic she was able to share the medical student perspective on the pandemic and ensure it was considered in AMA policy.

When it comes to making policy, “students can be involved in the whole process,” said Topolski, who is training at the McGovern Medical School, located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

“Every single medical school is allotted one delegate and one alternate delegate to the [MSS],” she noted. “Everyone is welcome to attend [AMA meetings]." 

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She highlighted that beyond policy, medical students can also use the AMA as a venue to grow their experience as a researcher.

“Advocacy is only one avenue,” she said. “There’s the AMA Research Challenge and we have poster showcases at our meetings. You can do a poster on advocacy or policy work on medical education. That gives you a platform.”

Learn more about the AMA Research Challenge, the largest national, multispecialty medical research conference for medical students and residents to showcase and present research. Laurel Road is sponsoring the grand prize of $10,000 for the winner. The deadline to submit an abstract is July 16.

Medical students have a seat at the table throughout the entire policy-creation process. That includes a voting delegation in the AMA House of Delegates (HOD), the legislative and policymaking body of the Association. Any AMA medical student member can write a resolution. If it is adopted by the AMA-MSS, it can then be put for consideration by the full House of Delegates and become AMA policy. Watch this video to learn how AMA policy is made.

Justin Magrath, a seventh-year MD-PhD student at Tulane University School of Medicine, has seen the process play out firsthand as a former member of AMA-MSS Governing Council, and as an alternate delegate to the HOD.  

“The resolution-writing process through the Medical Student Section is a great way to get involved,” said Magrath, who is also a member of the AMA Council on Medical Service. “It’s great to advocate on an issue that someone has put in front of you, but it’s even better to advocate on something you take from idea to resolution to getting that in front the AMA House of Delegates.

“The way to get started,” Magrath added, is to attend an AMA Annual or Interim Meeting. “Start talking to people and they can help you find your footing.”

Learn more about how medical students help shape AMA policy—and medicine’s future.

Use your voice to advocate