Pete Thomson, Chief Communications Officer
American Medical Student Association
McLean, Va., August 25, 2021: A new one-on-one advocacy coaching program, pairing medical students with established physician advocates, has launched — the latest in a long-line of advocacy initiatives by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). The initiative, led and co-created by Richard Bruno, MD, and Ryan Palmer, EdD, the former an AMSA alumnus, is intended to provide medical students with change-making ideas the guidance they need to evolve their passion and thinking into action.
AMSA, the oldest and largest student-led association of physicians-in-training in the United States, has a long history of fostering and driving advocacy movements across a range of issues, from healthcare for all to conflicts of interest in medicine and medical schools.
The Advocacy Coaching Program, according to Dr. Bruno, was born out of a frustration with how difficult it is for medical students to get good advice from experienced physician advocates. “I give talks on physician advocacy at local, regional, and national conferences, but there is always a sense that one-on-one mentorship could be a more powerful tool for learning advocacy than a lecture or classroom setting,” said Dr. Bruno.
At present, more than two dozen physician advocates have committed to serving as advocacy coaches for the program — to helping medical students flesh out advocacy projects of their own. Among them: former Maryland Senate candidate and full-time healthcare advocate, Dr Margaret Flowers; former health commissioner of Philadelphia Dr Walter Tsou; and nationally-recognized podcaster Dr. Jay-Sheree Allen. All are volunteering their time and will receive no financial compensation for participating.
According to Dr. Palmer, a Principal Consultant at Kennedy and Company Higher Education Strategies and a former Associate Dean of Medical Education, he often found himself consulting advocacy-minded students – including Dr. Bruno – who felt thwarted by a lack of support.
“In my 15 plus years in academic medicine I found that many students feel they don’t have a voice or the ability to affix action to their passions. The stakes and pressure are so high in medical school that students often feel it’s too risky to speak out about their advocacy beliefs. I wanted to help create a safe space where they could do that, regardless of their context.“
Just over a decade ago, Dr. Bruno served as co-chair of AMSA’s Health Care for All campaign, co-authoring an academic paper on the effects of a single Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill on med student attendees of AMSA’s 2011 annual conference. Since then, he has organized rallies, press conferences, legislator meetings, legislative testimony, cooking demos, OpEds, and acts of civil disobedience.
“There are so many ways that medical students can address injustices in society, I think it will be phenomenal for students to connect with active physicians who are doing on-the-ground and institutional work to gain guidance and insight into making a bigger difference on the issues that are important to them,” said Dr. Bruno.
The program is free and open to any/all AMSA medical student members. A four-year membership to AMSA is $75 and grants members free access to a full slate of education opportunities as well as mentoring and the one-on-one Advocacy Coaching program.
About the American Medical Student Association:
AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing physicians-in-training, advocating for quality and affordable health care for all, and building the next generation of physician leaders. To join our community, visit amsa.org.