NATIONAL HARBOR, Md — As the need for investments in public health and preventive medicine continues to grow in the U.S., the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted policy during its 2018 Interim Meeting today aimed at encouraging more medical students and residents to pursue training opportunities in public and population health leadership—and increasing access to care in rural areas.

Under the new policy, the AMA is calling on the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to increase awareness of these opportunities across the medical education continuum, particularly among women physician groups and other underrepresented groups in medicine.

“With an estimated 27 million uninsured U.S. citizens and resource deficiencies documented in both rural and urban communities, there is an increasing need for more physicians who are skilled in public and population health to help close the gaps that exist in patient access to care,” said AMA Board Member Willarda V. Edwards, M.D., M.B.A. “We know that investing in preventive medicine and public health is cost effective and saves lives. That’s why we’re encouraging more physicians-in-training, especially women, to pursue qualifications and credentials in public and population health.”

Although the number of women in leadership roles is increasing, women remain underrepresented in the top echelons of health care leadership, and gender differences exist in the types of leadership roles that women attain. In fact, a recent study found that 73 percent of deans of schools of public health were male. Given the many ways that sex and gender influence disease presentation and patient management, the new policy aims to increase the number of women physicians who receive training in preventive, public, population and rural health leadership.

There are numerous training opportunities across the continuum of medical education that are available to help all physicians-in-training develop the professional skills and qualifications they need to pursue a career in public health leadership. This includes the curricular innovations developed and offered through the AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium launched in 2013 to create the medical schools of the future. More than half of the consortium’s 32 medical schools have been working over the last five years to integrate population, public, and rural health education for medical students.

Additionally, the AMA’s Health Systems Science textbook, which was developed as part of the Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium, is an important resource that focuses on providing a fundamental understanding of how health care is delivered, how health care professionals work together to deliver that care, and how the health system can improve patient care and health care delivery. Health Systems Science has emerged as the third pillar of medical education, along with basic and clinical sciences, to help physicians-in-training learn how to advocate for their patients and communities and understand the socioecological determinants of health, health care policy, and health care economics.

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Kelly Jakubek

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the premier national organization providing timely, essential resources to empower physicians, residents and medical students to succeed at every phase of their medical lives. Physicians have entrusted the AMA to advance the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health on behalf of patients for more than 170 years.