Making the Grade: Medical School Conflict of Interest Policies Examined

August 13, 2017

American Medical Student Association Releases 2016 Scorecard

Media Contact: 
Rebekah Apple, Senior Manager of Programs
American Medical Student Association
Phone:  (703) 665-4786
Email: pr@amsa.org

Sterling, VA – December 1, 2016: Medical schools continue to strengthen their conflict of interest policies regarding pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, according to the 2016 AMSA Scorecard. However, once again, no school received a perfect score on the assessment.

Of 173 U.S. medical schools evaluated, 24 percent received an A grade, up from 17 percent in the 2014 assessment. Another 44 percent received a B grade on the 2016 scorecard. Sixteen percent received a C, and another 16 percent received an “Incomplete” rating either because the schools did not submit policies for review or their submitted policy did not cover all domains of the assessment.

The AMSA Scorecard—a project launched in 2007—provides an at-a-glance dashboard of institutional conflict-of-interest policies at medical schools. “AMSA recognizes the importance of unbiased training in the education of physicians-in-training and in the healthcare of our future patients. We come into medicine wanting to help others and, in order to do this, we must ensure that we are learning how to treat patients based on evidence and science, not based on market or industry,” says Dr. Kelly Thibert, AMSA’s national president.

The scorecard rates schools in 14 domains, including industry funding of meals, gifts, scholarships, and faculty speaking engagements. This year, the most improvement was seen in three particular domains: industry funding of continuing medical education, industry funding of meals, and industry funding of scholarships. In the scholarships domain, for example, a perfect score requires that schools do not accept any industry funds for sending students to conferences. This year, 16 schools met that criteria, up from three in 2014.

Though no school scored 100 percent across all domains this year, four medical schools came close: Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, Indiana University School of Medicine, and University of Chicago Division of the Biological Sciences Pritzker School of Medicine. All four scored 96 percent, meaning they met the top criteria in all but two of the 14 domains in the assessment.

“The scorecard represents AMSA’s commitment to ensuring medical students are aware of the level of professionalism and ethics in academic institutions,” says Dr. Jay Bhatt, chairman of the American Medical Student Association Foundation. “We are pleased to see schools continuing to refine their conflict of interest policies and that they so readily share this important information.”

To request an executive summary of this year’s AMSA Scorecard, learn more about its methodology or hear from a trainee about the risks of conflict of interest in medical education, contact Pete Thomson at pr@amsa.org or (703) 665-4786. The scorecard itself can be found at http://amsascorecard.org.


About AMSA:

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 the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at http://www.amsa.org.