Medical students are, of course, the future of medicine. But with events like the AMA 2022 conference on medical student advocacy, it’s clear they’re the present of medicine, too.
The conference offers medical students the opportunity to learn about the legislative process, gain insight into how to be an effective advocate for issues important to patients and physicians, and meet members of Congress and their assistants. The conference, held virtually due to the pandemic, takes place March 3-4. Registration is free for WADA members.
Another chance for students to get involved in advocacy issues, the AMA Medical Student Section (AMA-MSS) will hold its Physicians of the Future Summit on February 5, 2022. The summit offers educational programs and more in-depth discussions on the development of relevant policies for each region and its members.
To effect change, students need to understand how the legislative process works. To do this, the Medical Student Advocacy Conference offers many educational sessions led by seasoned DC veterans, most of whom work for the AMA.
Alec Calac is an AMA Fellow and MD candidate at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science. He attended the virtual medical student conference last year. Calac found advice from the AMA’s advocacy experts helpful in setting the stage.
“The AMA is one of the most structured platforms for medical students, with a peer network and technical support,” Calac said. “We have seasoned and experienced legislative staff who work day in and day out on these issues and talk about what we should and shouldn’t be doing. It’s so helpful, when people put their expertise and themselves at your disposal.
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The conference will focus on three issues identified by AMA Advocacy: prior authorization, Medicare payment reform, and telemedicine. Last year, telehealth was also on the agenda, as were issues of maternal mortality and medical cannabis research.
“You can put your passions into action,” said Calac, of the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians. “For maternal mortality, I was talking about the impact it had on aboriginal women. For telehealth, it bridges the digital divide for some of our most marginalized communities, especially tribal reservations. … It shouldn’t take a pandemic to get Wi-Fi.”
Attending medical students will be briefed on the major issues on the agenda and then meet with members of Congress and their staff about them. Students are separated into teams and discuss with lawmakers in their area.
“It was empowering,” said Leslie Gailloud, a fourth-year student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “It was nice to have the bandwidth to talk about why we felt these issues were important. At the time, I was nearing the end of my third year. I was able to talk about things I saw during my rotations.
“It’s important for students to get involved in something that goes beyond seeing patients,” she added. “Being involved in the AMA has really benefited me personally. You feel like you’re part of something bigger.
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