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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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  • Shortage of Primary Care Physicians

    In the United States, we are now short approximately 9,000 primary care doctors. This shortage is expected to grow to more than 65,000 doctors in the years to come.

    According to a new study by the Journal of American Medical Association, a majority of 50,000 physicians in training are planning on becoming sub-specialists.

    AMSA is dedicated to raising awareness of the need for primary care physicians and focusing attention on the failure of the health care system to provide equal, high quality health care to all individuals. For example, AMSA is hosting its Primary Care Leadership Institute in January 2013. Over three days, students will take part in interactive sessions, speakers, and an integrative experience at a clinic in Washington D.C. that will prepare them to become the future leaders in primary care. The deadline for this has passed but there are plenty of other ways to get involved. Check out some of our resources online:

    Healthcare Reform & Primary Care
    Professional Development in Primary Care
    AMSA's Primary Care Interest Group

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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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