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  • Medical Students Support Marriage Equality as Supreme Court Hears DOMA and Proposition 8 Cases

    As the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments this week in two marriage equality cases, Hollingsworth v. Perry and Windsor v. United States, the American Medical Student Association reiterates its longstanding support of marriage equality for same sex couples.

    “The institution of marriage should be extended to any two individuals who love each other, period.” says Dr. Elizabeth Wiley, national president of AMSA-USA. “As the nation’s next generation of physicians, we must stand up for our patients. Marriage equality is a public health issue.”

    Discriminatory policies and social practices are likely to perpetuate stigmatisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, resulting in negative health effects. According to a study done at Emory University, states' constitutional bans on gay marriage escalate new HIV infections at a rate comparable to four cases per 100,000 people.

    This comes as there is growing support internationally among medical students for marriage equality. Earlier this month in Baltimore, the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) General Assembly announced its support for marriage equality worldwide . This month, more than 1,000 medical students from across the globe gathered in Baltimore for the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) March Meeting. ...

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  • Does affirmative action belong in medicine?

    As the gatekeepers to the medical profession, medical schools have obligations that extend beyond their individual students to society at large. Those obligations include redressing current disparities in health care, where minority patients tend to receive less and lower quality care than others.

    This statement comes from the amicus brief that AMSA has recently signed in the case of Fisher v. the University of Texas. Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case.

    About the case: Abigail Fischer charged that she was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin because they gave preferential treatment to minority students. She is white. The university argues that Ms. Fischer did not meet the admission criteria and simply was not accepted to the program. 

    In any event, the issue here is affirmative action as it pertains to medicine. We won't comment directly on the case but instead discuss how physicians need to understand diverse cultures in order to make the system work. 

    Research shows that when physicians understand more about the diverse cultures of their patients, physician decision-making is better informed, patients are more likely to follow their physicians’ advice, and medical outcomes improve.

    At the same time, we see minority populations continue ...

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  • Landmark Case Could Change Admissions Policies

    Ran Zhao 
    National Health Policy Associate Coordinator, AMSA
    University of Connecticut
    School of Public Health 2013/School of Medicine 2014

      On October 10, the issue of race in medical school admission policies will be introduced once again at the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas.

    In 2008, Abigail Fisher accused the University of denying her admission because she was Caucasian. The Association of American Medical Collages (AAMC) along with 28 other medically related organizations including the American Medical Association, and the American Medical Student Association, filed an amicus curiae (a brief filed by a group that is not a part of the case) in support of the University of Texas. 

    This case has re-surfaced previous landmark cases involving admissions and ethnicity. Historically, in the landmark case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke 1978, the Supreme Court stated that race should be a factor in the holistic review process of medical school admissions, even though schools cannot create a separate category for applicants based solely on race. In Grutter v. Bollinger 2003a, the Supreme Court again ruled 5-4 in favor of utilizing race as part of the holistic admissions process at the University of Michigan Law School. ...

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  • Today's Supreme Court Ruling

    Elizabeth Wiley, MD, JD, MPH
    AMSA National President

    What an historic day this is. For years to come we will remember this day as the first step toward achieving quality, affordable health care for all. As you know, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (also known as the “Affordable Care Act” or “ACA”). Today’s landmark decision will shape the environment in which we will practice medicine and determine how our patients receive care.


    The Supreme Court held that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and this ruling will bring health care access to millions of Americans. At the same time, the Court ruled that states may opt out of the expansion of Medicaid. This decision is deeply concerning. If fully implemented, Medicaid expansion would provide coverage to 16 million more Americans by expanding eligibility to individuals up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, whether they are unemployed or among the so-called working poor. Clearly, as future physicians, we must continue to champion this issue and encourage states to opt in to Medicaid expansion.

    In the wake of this historic decision, I would like to encourage ...

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