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  • Medical Humanities Institute

    By Aliye Runyan, M.D.
    AMSA Education and Research Fellow

    The AMSA Medical Humanities Institute was held the first weekend of April, bringing 24 medical and pre-medical students from around the country to AMSA headquarters just outside of D.C.

    The three-day workshop highlighted the importance of the narrative in a patient's history, provider-patient communication, reflective writing for well-being of both patients and providers, and skills for maintaining balance in medical training, including yoga and meditation. The institute keynote (for the second year in a row), was Rita Charon, director of the Department of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, and founder of the field of narrative medicine. She instructed the group through a writing exercise, spoke about the importance of listening to the patient, and explained her process of shared notes with her patients, where patients are able to edit and contribute to their medical history and plan throughout.

    Other sessions included an overview of humanities in medical education with Gretchen Case from the University of Utah, a poetry workshop with nurse and poet Veneta Masson, a writing and film session with Linda Raphael from George Washington University, expressive writing with Nancy Morgan from the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown, and meditation / yoga therapy with instructors from the Beloved Yoga Studio in Reston, Virginia.

    Overall, the students had a wonderful experience and a renewed sense of community that they will take back to their universities to begin projects in the medical humanities - to create awareness and build knowledge amongst both peers and faculty of the skill set which humanities provides to medical care.

    The institute was generously sponsored by the Arnold P Gold Foundation and the Brown University Department of Emergency Medicine.

    "One of the biggest things I took away from the institute was the idea that swinging the pendulum of medicine back towards the human element will require not only bringing medical humanities aspects to clinics and practitioner training programs, but doing so in a way that still fits into the current standards of performance and improvement evaluations. It's also our responsibility to call attention to what we measure, how, and why, in hopes that one day the standards won't be complete without what we are now desperately struggling to include." - Ronald Canepa

    "Too often, we take for granted the experiences and skills most likely to change the course of our professional lives. By attending the institute, I refined my understanding of healing as an art, rather than purely a science." - Ajleeta Sangtani


    Photo by Lorenzo Sewanan

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  • Newly Elected AMSA National Leaders

    Britani Kessler, fourth year medical student at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine, will begin serving her term as AMSA National President on May 1, 2014. Kessler will work full-time at AMSA’s national office, Sterling, Virginia, where she will chair the Board of Trustees, represent almost 40,000 physicians-in-training, maintain alliances with other organizations and visit AMSA chapters across the country. 

    “AMSA is an exceptional organization that inspires a community of future physicians through education and advocacy,” says Kessler. “I’m honored and excited to serve as national president and plan on focusing on medical student debt and AMSA's Just Medicine campaign. I look forward to working with AMSA members across the country and helping them to realize their power as members of the medical community. The face of medicine is ever-changing and our members need to stay informed and active. As the future of medicine, we know that changes must be made and I believe our exceptional programming and wonderful leaders will accomplish so much over the coming year."

    At the recent AMSA Annual Convention, Deborah Vozzella Hall, third year medical student at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, was elected President-Elect. She will serve for one year before becoming National President on May 1, 2015. Hall is currently AMSA’s Vice President for Internal Affairs and has previously served as National Secretary and co-director for AMSA’s Health Care for All Campaign.

    Newly elected members of the 2014-2015 AMSA Board of Trustees:

    President: Britani Kessler, Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine
    President-Elect: Deborah Vozzella Hall, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
    Vice President for Internal Affairs: Kelly Thibert, Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine
    Vice President for Membership: Tripp Hines, ETSU Quillen College of Medicine
    Vice President of Program Development: Perry Tsai, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Vice President of Leadership Development: Sahar Barfchin, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
    Secretary: Joshua Weinstock, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
    Graduate Trustee: Vacant
    International Trustee: Janell Johnson, Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
    Premedical Trustee: Isaiah Cochran, Waynesburg University
    Immediate Past President: Nida Degesys, MD
    The New Physician Student Editor: Luke Messac, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
    Ex-officio member: Joshua Caulfield, IOM, AMSA Executive Director

    2014-2015 AMSA Fellowship Position:

    Education & Research Fellow: Rachel Glassford, graduate student at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University

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  • Every leader is part of a team: let us build medical progress!

    Whitney McFadden
    AMSA National Health Policy Coordinator


    This past weekend the 19th Annual National APAMSA conference took center stage amongst the deep oranges and reds of the slowly ripening leaves in the Midwest. While in town, I decided to attend the conference, catch up with APAMSA friends, and meet a few of the motivated students responsible for organizing this well attended, high energy conference of medical students.

    The United Asian American Medical Student Association (UA AMSA) chapter hosted the conference this year at the University of Michigan and welcomed students from all over the country to the School of Public health for a weekend of engaging speakers, thought provoking conversation, talks on out of the box innovations centered around Asian American populations. However, the themes of this conference transcended the whole medical community, and while I did not, for a second, feel out of place amidst my Asian American cohorts, I realized the empowerment present in this community. The perfect combination of successful and accomplished Asian American physicians was fueling the next generation of students, changing our prior understanding of science, teamwork, and leadership. 

    Upon my arrival, I was graciously introduced to a few of the conference coordinators including Peter Park, and heard about the hard work put in by the rest of the UAAMSA team Helen Shi, Claudia Cao, and Mike Chu. I made it in time to watch Dr. Tao Li present his Step 1 advice. After having completed Step 1, the talk took on a whole new meaning. While study techniques were the highlight, Dr. Li managed to take on a very important role for these students. As a mentor, he took on the burden of the future. By that, I mean he has the power to say the smart, eager, and motivated student, with the right study plan, will do just fine. Quelling anxiety, encouraging a relaxed approach, and offering tools to master this test in a healthy way will lead to better scores, better performance, and more well balanced medical students. Will these strategies prove useful outside step 1? I would argue they set the stage for the lifetime of learning that student doctors must embrace in their future careers.

    Some of the most thought provoking talks came from those addressing the role of the team in healthcare and how to harness skills to be a leader. Arthur Chen, an alumni to the AMSA national convention 2012 in Houston TX was amidst the speakers addressing the need for leaders. But does being a leader mean sacrificing the team? Quite the contrary. It seems being a leader necessitates a team and APAMSA offers the opportunity for students to be empowered in their field of medicine to take on leadership roles and coordinate a team. Christine Thang, AMSA chapter president and APAMSA representative at UCLA shared her thoughts:

    “APAMSA and AMSA share in similar visions, they both aim to empower medical students. Both organizations recognize that medical students represent the future of healthcare and strive to empower students with the knowledge and recognition of the fact that we cannot simply just accept the status quo.”

    She makes a good point that, as students, we are still a powerful force and can affect the lives of patients in need. For APAMSA, the students are able to address the needs of the underserved and underinsured Asian American populations taking on leadership roles and team based approaches in health fairs and student run programs as well as biomedical research. Peter Wu, University of Michigan UAAMSA member, addressed the need for cancer screening in the Asian American population through his clinical research:

    “Cancer, not heart disease, is the leading cause of death in Asian Americans. We suffer greatest from disparities in breast, liver, and gastric cancers. The most unfortunate aspect of this statistic is that these are all diseases that can be screened for.”

    These advances in healthcare come with great insight as to how medical research should be conducted, how policy can be implemented, and how physicians understand their specific communities. These are the keys to developing more of the much-needed leadership in medicine.

    Christine also notes, “While they are amazing physician leaders, it also makes you realize that we need more.” After attending the national APAMSA conference this year, more are definitely on their way. Empowerment of student doctors as leaders, advocates, friends, and team members is universal and should continue with innovative ideas and new perspectives in places where these conversations are dynamically shared.

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  • CORE Leadership Forums

    Layla Cristina Mihuti
    AMSA Premedical Regional Director, Region 6
    Indiana University-Purdue, University Indianapolis

    AMSA's Region 6 held its Chapter Officers’ Regional Leadership Forum on Saturday, June 25, at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. By getting together at the forum, all premedical and medical students from Region 6 had the opportunity to better know one another, to make new friends, to learn new things about AMSA and to develop new leadership skills.

    We all went back home enthusiastic and inspired to achieve our 2011-2012 goal, which is greater member engagement, and new member recruitment.

    As a Region 6 Premedical Regional Director, I highly encourage all of you who are involved in the leadership of your local chapters to attend your own CORE Regional Forum, because there is so much to learn, and because it is the best training opportunity you will have this year.

    Here are the amazing premedical and medical AMSA leaders at the Region 6 CORE LF, 2011:

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  • AMSA Welcomes 2011-2012 Leadership

    Danielle Salovich, M.D., recent graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has been elected to serve as the national president of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). She will chair the Board of Trustees, maintain alliances with other organizations and visit AMSA chapters across the country.

    “AMSA is an exceptional organization that inspires a community of future physicians through education and advocacy,” says Salovich. “I am honored to lead an organization composed of members truly dedicated to improving our nation's healthcare system. It is the passion of our visionary members that gives AMSA such a powerful voice.”

    AMSA 2011-2012 Board of Trustees

    Newly elected members of the 2011-2012 AMSA Board of Trustees:

    • Vice President for Internal Affairs: Elizabeth Wiley, JD, MPH, George Washington University School of Medicine
    • Vice President for Membership: David Marcovitz, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
    • Vice President of Program Development: Katherine Ellington, St. George’s University
    • Vice President of Leadership Development: Shazia Mehmood, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
    • Vice President for Finances: Lorraine Toner, St. George’s University
    • Secretary: Nida Degesys, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine
    • Graduate Trustee: Matthew Stull, MD
    • International Trustee: Elizabeth Morgan, Medical School for International Health at Ben Gurion University
    • Premedical Trustee: Kimberly Fe’Lix Kimes, recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    • Immediate Past President: John Brockman, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
    • The New Physician Student Editor: Jack DePaolo, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

    2011-2012 AMSA Fellowship Positions:

    • AMSA/CIR Health Justice Fellow: Sonia Lazreg, Mount Sinai School of Medicine 
    • Education & Advocacy Fellow: Colin McCluney, University of Washington School of Medicine

    Welcome to all new national leaders! For a complete list, click here.

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  • Study Tour Provides Students with Different Perspectives on Healthcare

    Is the United States on the path to "socialized medicine"?
    Are waiting times really that long in Canada?
    Will the healthcare reform bill be repealed?
    Do Canadians really drive down to the U.S. for "better" care?

    These questions and many more will be answered and discussed on AMSA's Seacouver Study Tour. A five-day tour taking place in both Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from April 6-10, 2011.

    Healthcare reform is one of the biggest issues in politics today as it affects all citizens, whether they are in the medical field or patients themselves. It is now more important than ever for healthcare professionals to understand our healthcare system so that we may become informed advocates for our patients. It is also equally important to study the systems of other countries as there may be certain aspects that we may borrow to improve issues like affordability and access to medicine in our own country. No one system is perfect, but it is necessary to learn the advantages and disadvantages of each.

    The SeaCouver Study Tour aims to educate students on the intricacies of the U.S. and Canadian healthcare systems going beyond basic facts to delve into the core of the systems and their impact on patients, families and communities. Students will participate in discussions with some of the leaders in the field of medicine and healthcare policy in the U.S. and Canada. Speakers include prominent physicians active in improving our healthcare system, congressional advisors, and also informed patients with their own personal experiences to share. While in Vancouver, students will also tour clinics, hospitals and a homeless shelter to see firsthand how healthcare differs in Canada. Finally, they will have the opportunity to discuss how medicine, healthcare, school, and life differ between the U.S. and Canada with a group of University of British Columbia medical students. In addition to these interactive sessions, students will also have the opportunity to interview people on the street in both Seattle and Vancouver to learn about the various citizens' experiences and thoughts on not only their own healthcare system but also on the system across the border. Many students cite these interviews as the highlight of the trip as many of the interviewees are surprisingly candid and share some very personal stories. These various interviews will then be edited into a video that can be used to demonstrate the personal side of healthcare. In addition to all the facts and knowledge one gains on the trip, participants in the past have taken away lasting friendships and also a better understanding of AMSA and all its opportunities.

    There are only 16 slots available for SeaCouver Study Tour! Applicants will be selected on a first come, first serve basis. The Final Application deadline is February 15. For more information, click here.

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  • Applications Now Being Accepted for ERF

    By Carol Williams-Nickelson, PsyD
    AMSA Executive Director
    We at AMSA are excited to announce the application process for the 2011-2012 Education & Research Fellow (ERF), a unique position for a medical student to spend a year augmenting their formal medical training with the opportunity to delve deeply into select issues affecting the quality and content in medical education.

    AMSA’s Fellowship Program is an intensive one-year long educational immersion experience. Fellows completing this program will be uniquely situated to deal with the challenges of a complex healthcare system and reform their profession through education and advocacy.

    The ERF will serve multiple roles at the AMSA National Office, working closely with staff and national leaders to enhance educational programming initiatives throughout the organization. The successful candidate will contribute to the strategic direction of AMSA in many ways, including holding primary responsibility for AMSA’s research initiatives, developing high-quality programming for AMSA Conferences, mentoring and assisting in the management of the AMSA Intern Program and designing a successful array of external educational programming with the goal of developing knowledge and skills in areas that are not traditionally included in medical school curricula.

    I promise an exciting year! But don’t just take my word – check out what past AMSA Fellows have said about their experiences. For complete information on eligibility, compensation, core components of the AMSA Fellowship Program, click here. Applications are due on November 12, 2010.

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  • Free Patient Safety Webinar Today

    Today from 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EST, Dan Henderson, AMSA's Vice President of Leadership Development, will be joining a panel of patient safety leaders, including actor Dennis Quaid! The discussion will focus on important national leadership and cultural issues. And as soon-to-be safety leaders, you will learn the role of checklists, share rounds, and infection prevention measures and how to implement in your organization.

    The webinar is being hosted by SafetyLeaders.org. The audience will include several hundred providers, residents, and students like you. Best of all, the sponsor has offered free sign-up for the webinar. Sign up here! 

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  • Easy, Exciting Engagement

    By Ben Goold
    AMSA Vice President of Programming Development

    Every year, a crowd of new premedical and medical students head to school, unsure of what they'll find when they get there. Everyone is in a new environment. Incoming freshmen in college and incoming first years in medical school are trying to figure out where they fit.

    AMSA is a place where diversity matters, where people who care about social justice and medicine come together. We find meaning in our shared struggle as students. We all want to see a better world than the one we live in now. And we refuse to wait until we have an MD/DO behind our names to start working towards that better world.

    If you want to empower the students around you to make a better world, then you're in luck. AMSA's national leaders have done something extraordinary this year--they have put together all their passions into one place. Every chapter officer searching for a program, every student looking for a way to get involved in making a better world can find a current, ready-to-use program online, at AMSA's E3 page.

    E3 stands for Easy, Exciting, Engagement Programming. Each program listed there is designed to help students gain a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves. Each one is designed for students, by students.

    I invite every chapter officer or new student who wants to make a difference, empower their fellow students, and do it on their schedule, to check it out. More programs will be added soon, so check back often.

    Welcome to another wonderful year of making things better!

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  • Indigenous Health Leadership Institute Brings New Way of Learning to Health Professions Students from Across the US

    When students and professionals in the health fields attend an institute, PowerPoint presentations are to be expected. But this past weekend, at the Indigenous Health Leadership Institute, participants got a different experience. It was a PowerPoint-free institute, where the entire three days were spent with community leaders in the Kewa Pueblo and Tohajiilee community on the Navajo Nation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    The Native Health Initiative purposely used the word “indigenous” for the institute, hoping to deconstruct and decolonize the notion that Indigenous communities and traditions from north of the border are distinct from those south of the border.  

    Did you attend this institute? We'd love to hear from you about your experience!

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