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In today’s AMA Update, join the next generation of medical student advocates in Washington, D.C., in just a few short weeks to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill and advocate for key issues—like GME funding, Conrad 30 and scope creep—that affect medical students and the future of medicine. AMA Government Relations Advocacy Fellow (GRAF) Kylee Borger explains why all medical students should go to the AMA Medical Student Advocacy Conference (MAC). AMA Chief Experience Officer Todd Unger hosts.
Reserve your spot by Feb. 15! Register for the AMA Medical Student Advocacy Conference now.
- Kylee Borger, Government Relations Advocacy Fellow (GRAF), AMA
Unger: Hello and welcome to the AMA Update video and podcast. If you're a medical student who's interested in advocacy and you're not yet registered for the AMA's upcoming Medical Student Advocacy Conference on March 2, you should be. Today we're going to talk about the power of medical student advocacy and how the AMA is helping students learn the skills to do it. And here to tell us more about how this event can help students become better advocates for their profession and patients is Kylee Borger, the AMA's Government Relations Advocacy Fellow, or GRAF, in Washington, D.C. I'm Todd Unger, AMA's chief experience officer in Chicago. Welcome Kylee.
Borger: Thanks for having me.
Unger: Well, getting involved in advocacy may not be something medical students think about right when they begin medical school. Kylee, tell us why it's so important that they do think about it and get involved in it early on.
Borger: Sure. So when we're taught in medical school how to take care of patients, we're really taught about what to do with them when they're right in front of us. So, what are their symptoms, how we treat them. But a lot of the reasons that people come into the office is not necessarily directly related to their health, like, do they have access to nutrition? Do they have access to insurance and stuff like that. And all of that is big-level public health policy changes that really require advocacy to fix. And that's not something that's really covered in medical school, so it's really important to get that training from outside and beyond medical school.
Unger: And just interestingly, the advocacy that you're talking about right there, focused on patient care, but also it's important to advocate on behalf of yourself. And there are so many issues that affect students and residents out there. I think many students right now are preparing for a very stressful time about looking for residency, and that's the kind of thing that advocacy counts because it can help advance your own career. Talk a little bit about that.
Borger: Sure. So I think we all got into medicine because we want to take care of our patients, but we can't do that if we're not taking care of ourselves and if we're not able to do our job to the best of our ability. So advocating for things that can help make our job easier and increase patient safety, efficiency, making sure people can see the doctor, are all things that we need to work on.
You talked about residency. One of our topics is graduate medical education slots—so residency slots—because there aren't enough of them for the physicians that we are graduating from medical schools, which means that there's not going to be not enough physicians to take care of patients.
Unger: And a big focus for the AMA, increasing that, more residency slots, because we are facing a physician shortage out there. Kylee, one of your big responsibilities as being a GRAF is putting on this event, the Medical Student Advocacy Conference. Big difference this year—for the first time in a couple of years, it's back in person, in the nation's capital for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Tell the audience why it's so important that it is in person, that it is in D.C. What's the special stuff that you get out of this particular meeting?
Borger: Being in D.C., you really get to experience Washington, D.C. So getting to walk to the Capitol, walk throughout the halls of the Capitol, meet your representatives and their staff in person, really get to make that personal connection with the people that you're talking to, which helps what we're talking about and the issues we're talking about really stick in their minds, which has a bigger impact than just being one of many virtual meetings. Beyond talking to representatives and their staff, you really do to get the personal connection with other students from across the country as well.
When I attended MAC in person in 2020, last time it was in person, I met so many students from across the country that have become my close personal AMA friends that I still talk to. That really helped me get more involved in the AMA and have really kind of transformed my medical school journey.
Unger: Going to Capitol Hill, meeting with legislators, we don't expect medical students to know how to do that right off the bat. It's so important, and I know because I've seen it in person. The meeting breaks, and everybody lines up in their white coats. And they walk to the Hill, and then they all get their photo taken there before they go in for their meetings, it's very inspiring. So I'm really looking forward to seeing that again this year.
So important, too, is the training on how to do that. Talk to us a little bit more about what medical students can expect to learn about how to have those conversations.
Borger: Our Medical Student Advocacy Conference, MAC, is in two days. The first day is really the training of everything you need to know about how to talk to legislators, how to be an effective lobbyist, and then the second day, on Friday, you get to actually have those meetings that we set up for you.
So the whole point of Thursday is to really prepare you so that you feel comfortable talking to your representatives. So there will be a lot of talks about how to have those conversations and be effective, while also training you on the issues so you can speak comfortably about it. In addition to the actual trainings, we'll have opportunities for students to practice their conversations that they'll be having on Thursday night. So feeling very comfortable before you get there.
Unger: What are some of the key advocacy issues that medical students will learn about in that week?
Borger: Sure. So this conference really is all about workforce. We are about to enter the physician workforce, and so there's a lot of things that go along with that. We have three main topics around this. We have GME funding—so graduate medical education funding, like I mentioned earlier—our residency slots. Most of the funding for residency comes from the federal government, which means that to get more of it, we need to have Congress put more money towards it.
So being able to really increase the number of slots so we can have enough physicians to support both medical school graduates and the amount of patients who don't have access to a physician currently is one of our really big pushes. Going along with that is Conrad 30, which is an immigration program that allows foreign medical graduates or foreign citizens to be able to stay in the country after residency instead of having to return home for three years, which really kind of pulls people away from the U.S. and from those rural communities that they tend to practice in. So it's another way of supporting our workforce and access to care.
And then the third is scope of practice, to make sure that our patients see who they need to see efficiently and effectively to preserve physician-led care teams to, again, make sure that patients are being taken care of in the best way possible.
Unger: These are all incredibly important issues. And again, you can't expect somebody to do all that advocacy work on behalf of you. You need to get involved right away. Kylee, for those students that want to learn more and register for the conference, where should they find that information?
Borger: Its all on our website. So it's on ama-assn.org/mac2023. And that will have all the information about the conference, how to register, the registration link, and then information about how to ask for funding, if you need funding, to attend MAC.
Unger: So, again, the conference is taking place in Washington, D.C. March 2 and March 3, with meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill on the third. That is a really exclusive and great benefit for being part of this particular conference. Again, you can find a direct link in the description of this particular episode. And pay attention because the deadline is soon. You need to reserve your spot to attend in Washington, D.C., by February 15. So don't delay. Sign up now.
And for students who want to get involved more with advocacy but can't make the conference, Kylee, are there other opportunities?
Borger: Within our AMA, we have the Medical Student Section, which is the section that is made up of all medical students across the country. Within our section, we have lots of different leadership opportunities both within the advocacy space and different topics that students might be interested in. We have lots of leadership opportunities for people to apply for or run for or committees if they want to dive into a particular topic more.
So more information about our Medical Student Section can be found on the AMA medical Student Section web page.
Unger: That's great, Kylee. Thank you so much for being here today. Again, the conference registration link can be found at ama-assn.org/mac2023. We really want to see you there. I'm looking forward to it. Kylee, thanks for putting this together.
To all the medical students and staff that are ready to train the next generation of student advocates, we'll be back soon with another AMA Update. You can find all our videos and podcasts at ama-assn.org/podcasts. Thanks for joining us today and please take care.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in this podcast are those of the participants and/or do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.