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  • AMSA National Leaders Publish Survey in BMC Education

    Advocacy is increasingly being recognized as a core element of medical professionalism and efforts are underway to incorporate advocacy training into graduate and undergraduate medical school curricula. While limited data exist to quantify physician attitudes toward advocacy, even less has been done to assess the knowledge, skills and attitudes of future physicians

    Congratulations to AMSA national leaders - Kristin Huntoon, Colin McCluney, Dr. Elizabeth Wiley (AMSA National President), Christopher Scannell, Richard Bruno and Dr. Matthew Stull (Graduate Trustee) - who recently published, "Self-reported evaluation of competencies and attitudes by physicians-in-training before and after a single day legislative advocacy experience," in BMC Education. Here is the link: The purpose of this study was to assess students' experiences and attitudes toward legislative advocacy using a convenience sample of premedical and medical students attending a National Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. in March 2011.

    Data from 108 pre-advocacy and 50 post-advocacy surveys were analyzed yielding a response rate of 46.3%. Following a single advocacy experience, subjects felt they were more likely to contact their legislators about healthcare issues (p=0.03), to meet in person with their legislators (p<0.01), and to advocate for populations' health needs (p=0.04). Participants endorsed an increased perception of the role ...

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  • New @ 2011 AMSA National Convention: Thought Leaders Series

    Katherine Ellington
    Vice President-Elect, Program Development
    National Chair,Wellness & Student Life Committee
    St. George's University School of Medicine

    A few months ago, I had a conversation with Dr. Matthew Stull, AMSA National Education & Research Fellow about new programming during convention. He discussed the vision for a new “New Thought Leaders” series of talks to provide more opportunity to hear from a broader range of leading voices within the profession of medicine.

    The new “Thought Leaders” series included 3 sessions held on Friday morning. The first featured Dr. James Prescott, chief academic officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which carries a mission to serve and lead the academic medical to improve health care for all. Dr. Prescott is enabling the AAMC dialogue to help the profession of medicine rethink approaches to the medical education continuum. He acknowledges a new era of transformation in medical education as well as the complexity of our changing health system, which also affords new opportunities (e.g. new medical schools). The commitment to embrace quality and excellence stands unchanged, consider the core competencies for every physician:

    Patient care that is compassionate, appropriate,and effective
    Medical knowledge
    Practice-based learning and improvement
    Interpersonal and communication skills ...

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  • A Practice of Compassion: part 2

    Aliye Runyan
    Incoming AMSA Medical Education Action Committee Chair
    University of Miami-Miller School of Medicine

    The theme of compassion was elaborated on by two other presenters during AMSA's Annual Convention & Exposition – Jack Coulehan’s session “The Patient is Why I’m Here: Humility and Professionalism in Medical Training” and Allan Peterkin’s “Creative Writing for Teaching and Evaluating Professionalism”.

    Coulehan, professor emeritus and senior fellow of the Center for Medical Humanities at Stonybrook University in New York, spoke to a definition of professionalism, which indeed includes compassion. He quoted John Gregory, eighteenth-century Scottish physician and writer: “The chief quality [in practice of medicine] is humanity, the sensibility of heart that makes us feel for the distress of our fellow creatures, and which, in consequence incites us…to relieve them.”

    “Humility is the most absent of virtues in medicine”, Coulehan observed. He went on to discuss humility as self awareness, unpretentious openness, and gratitude for the privilege of caring for others. Techniques for conveying such attributes in medical education were discussed – such as Balint groups and interprofessional leadership training among the various health care professions.

    Allan Peterkin, author of “Staying Human During Residency Training”, and associate professor of psychiatry and family medicine ...

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  • Communication and Collaborative Technologies

    Scott Hagan
    Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Class of 2013

    Dr. Danny Sands, President of the Society for Participatory Medicine and Director of Medical Informatics at Cisco Internet Business Solutions, gave a great presentation (slideshow available here) on the use of emerging technologies to improve patient-physician communication in healthcare on Saturday, March 12th at the AMSA Annual Convention & Exposition. Some particular points that I found intriguing:

    • Pagers are quickly becoming irrelevant in medicine, as physicians are moving toward smartphones and cell phones to receive messages. This is a welcome change, as beepers are an inefficient way of communicating.
    • In general, inefficient communication in the hospital accounts for a massive amount of wasted time. For example, 65% of nurses spend than 20-60min/shift just trying to reach staff, and over 66% use more than one channel of communication to do so.
    • According to the Joint Commission, communications failures are considered to be the greatest contributor to sentinel events in hospitals. Thus it is a moral imperative for the future clinician workforce to improve the processes of communication in healthcare if we are to do right by our patients.
    • New forms of e-Communication, whether it be improved patient access ...

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  • A Practice of Compassion

    Aliye Runyan
    Incoming AMSA Medical Education Action Committee Chair
    University of Miami-Miller School of Medicine
    Keynote speakers Dr. Patch Adams and Susan Parenti, from the Gesundheit Institute (, provided a meaningful and compelling welcome to AMSA’s 2011 Annual Convention & Exposition. 

    Parenti (pictured) emphasized the importance of “nesting” – nurturing that which is vulnerable- in this case, the process of healing and care of patients – in a nurturing community. This is the background for Adams’ brainchild – the design and now, building of a completely not-for-profit health care organization that is a project in holistic medical care – based in West Virginia. The project is a response to what Parenti and Adams call a “cry for compassion” from patients. The pair stress that burnout among physicians can be attributed not to too much time spent seeing patients, but too little time per patient, leaving both provider and patient unfulfilled. They emphasized the importance of the “bidirectionality” of the physician-patient relationship over time, and that the health of the staff in medicine is just as important as health of patients.

    Adams stated that medicine is “a practice of compassion” and “no medical school in the world teaches compassion”. ...

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