This month’s Leader Spotlight is Pratishtha Chhabra! Pratishtha is a second-year osteopathic medical student at Lincoln Memorial University-Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. She joined the American Medical Student Association in 2016.
OMS-II, Lincoln Memorial University-Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine
AMSA National Secretary
Surprisingly, I didn’t hear about AMSA until the summer before starting medical school. Although my undergraduate institution had an AMSA chapter, I was never involved with extra curricular activities due to the sheer fact I was commuting three hours everyday and had little time to explore clubs. Wanting to change that during medical school, I was looking for an organization that fit my passions and values as a future physician. I came to hear of AMSA when news of Joey Johnson being selected as the new President-Elect spread throughout our school.
Since Joey and I attended the same institution, I reached out to him after doing some research. Having been a speed policy debater, I was very vocal about my passion for human rights, social justice, and advocacy. I quickly learned that AMSA was full of passionate student doctors like me, who refused to sit back with all the problems around us. Instead, AMSA members actively choose to make a difference in their community and recognize how important it is to take a political stance as an organization. Already, this set AMSA apart from any other national medical organization I had come across.
I was also really impressed with how welcoming the AMSA community was to me. Moving from Seattle, WA to Harrogate, TN was a big culture shock, and very politically isolating. I was lucky to have mentors in AMSA–like Joey–who recognized my passions and guided me toward opportunities to keep me rooted in those passions. More often that not, student physicians become disillusioned with the field of medicine and lose their desire to drive change. I knew with AMSA, I would be advocating for life.
Even though I joined not too long ago, AMSA has quickly grown to be like my family. While I am introduced to new family members everyday, I know we all share the same common core beliefs: to leave the medical profession, our communities, and the world a better place than we found it.
Becoming an AMSA leader was actually a very personally-motivated decision for me. Externally, I want to save the world like everyone else in AMSA, and having a leadership role really gives me the means to drive that change. However internally, I was craving a community of like-minded individuals that would be my family for life.
After moving from Seattle to Tennessee, I have had to grow a lot. I didn’t realize I had been living in a bubble, where my advocacy skills were geared to a certain socioeconomic class, and way of thinking. I quickly realized I didn’t have the skills to drive change in communities outside this bubble. However, every time I took a look at an AMSA leader, I was struck with how polished and refined they were. I could see how the experience of being on a board for a national organization taught you essential life skills. Suddenly becoming an AMSA leader for me meant more being a director of change, it meant learning to effectively advocate for the causes I care about to become a better driver of that change.
To me, AMSA isn’t just an organizations for future student leaders, it’s an organization that molds students into future leaders, which is very important. I don’t know many organizations that offer this unique safe space for student growth. Becoming a leader in this organization means making the change I wish to see in the medical community, while simultaneously growing professionally.
My favorite AMSA moment was standing in front of the Nation’s Capitol in D.C. and advocating for health care for all. After so much divisive rhetoric and polarizing politics even within the medical community, it was nice to just come together and realize I’m not alone.
Seize every learning opportunity. Ask for feedback and guidance often. Don’t shy away from growth. You will make many mistakes, but if you don’t learn from them, they go to waste.
About the Leader Spotlight: Do you know of an AMSA Leader who deserves to be recognized? Do you want to share your leadership story with other AMSA members? Share your story for consideration! One outstanding leader will be featured each month in AMSA’s Leader Spotlight on the website.