4 reasons why this D.C. conference is a must for medical students

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

AMA News Wire

4 reasons why this D.C. conference is a must for medical students

Feb 2, 2024

Medical students will, by definition, shape the future of medicine. The upcoming AMA Medical Student Advocacy Conference (MAC) is a venue in which they can amplify their collective voice and create a brighter tomorrow for physicians and patients.

Meet legislators, use your voice for change

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

The conference offers physicians-in-training the opportunity to improve their skills as advocates before they start practicing medicine as well as the unique opportunity to meet face to face with members of Congress and their staffers to advocate on issues directly affecting physicians and patients.

The conference, which takes place March 7–8 in Washington, gives medical students a remarkable opportunity to advocate for the future of medicine by:

  • Attending training on how to be a public health advocate.
  • Learning about issues affecting medical students.
  • Meeting with their local legislators on Capitol Hill.

Learn more and register now for the 2024 AMA Medical Student Advocacy Conference.

Here are four other big reasons why medical students should head to Washington to attend the conference.

The in-person event allows medical students to meet face to face with members of Congress and their staffers.

Jessica McAllister has attended the conference three times and is now the AMA Government Relations Advocacy Fellow (GRAF).

“Meeting with your Members of Congress during MAC is a great way for students to start building those relationships with their lawmakers to further their future advocacy,” she said.

McCallister added that “MAC serves as a great opportunity for medical students who are passionate about advocacy and public health to come together and foster meaningful relationships with other like-minded medical students.” 

Drive change with AMA benefits

Become a member and get access to advocacy resources, programs and events to help you make a difference in health care.

Ahead of their visits with the nation’s lawmakers, the AMA Medical Student Advocacy Conference will feature sessions that help hone their ability to advocate and lobby effectively.

Formerly the GRAF, Kylee Borger has attended the conference.  several times in-person in March 2020, just before the global pandemic forced the 2021 and 2022 events to go virtual. The event was held in-person again in 2023 and will be on-sight in Washington in 2024 as well.

“Attending MAC helps you grow as an advocate by giving you the tools on what to say and how to say it to be the most effective when you meet with your representatives,” said Borger, a medical student at California University of Science and Medicine, an MD-granting medical in San Bernardino County that was founded in 2015. 

Some key tips for those interactions with lawmakers (PDF) include understanding where your expertise as an advocate lies and seeking guidance from physicians who have worked as physician lobbyists.

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Medical student sitting on a stack of textbooks

As has been the case in previous versions of the event, medical students attending the 2024 AMA Medical Student Advocacy Conference will have a few key issues on their radar.

Students will be advocating for physicians, advocating for patients, and advocating for their communities by focusing on issues including graduate medical education, Medicare reform, cost-sharing and substance-use disorder.

See examples of the policy briefs that help medical students have the facts at their fingertips when advocating on behalf of patients and physicians:

The challenges facing health care’s future make advocacy less of an optional endeavor, according to Borger. 

“Students should attend MAC because advocacy is essential to improving patient care and access,” Borger said. “If we do not incorporate advocacy into our medical practice, as medical students and as future physicians, we can only work within the broken health care system as it exists—and are ignoring the possibility of fixing it to improve patient access, health care affordability, health equity and limitless facets of the art and science of medicine.”

Use your voice to advocate