By: Hannah Hendrix, AMSA National President 2020—2021
The new year offers an opportunity for reflection on the triumphs and challenges of the year. We continue to face the tragedy of a global pandemic including distance from loved ones, crowded hospitals, and lives lost. We were thrilled to start off 2021 with vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, though vaccine hesitation and resistance have slowed down efforts to protect our communities and our nation, and the rise of variants leads to uncertainty about what comes next.
The struggles of the past two years have cast issues of equity, justice, and community into sharp relief, and more medical students are speaking out. For AMSA this is nothing new. For over 70 years, AMSA has done our best to inspire future physicians in America. As the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States, we remain committed to representing the interests of physicians-in-training, equipping the next generation of physicians with the essential tools they need, and protecting the health and well-being of our patients and communities. This year we chose three advocacy priorities to guide us in this mission: healthcare access, reproductive justice, and medical education reform.
Our action committees and campaigns have organized virtual events to shine a light on issues that matter, ranging from environmental justice to the rights of trans patients, alongside advocacy workshops where students learned how to write letters to the editor or how to communicate effectively with their elected officials. We continued working closely as co-founders of the Lower Drug Prices Now Campaign, and, along with our allies, advocated for passage of the Build Back Better act.
The AMSA Reproductive Health Project entered its third grant year, allowing us to continue offering our repertoire of reproductive justice-focused programming and mentorship opportunities for yet another year. Just last month, we began surveying medical students for our reproductive health scorecard, which will evaluate gaps in education around family planning and abortion care at U.S. medical schools. We’ve taken stands for the Women’s health Protection Act, which would finally codify access to abortion, and we pushed back against Texas’ restrictive six-week abortion ban.
This year the AMSA Academy transitioned to a semester model, giving students access to even more opportunities to supplement their medical education in special topic areas. We also introduced brand new scholars programs for topics including medical humanities and health disparities. Development continues for our medical education scorecard, which will put the focus on the curriculum outside basic science. After consulting with content-area experts to fine-tune the project, the scorecard team is in the process of pursuing grant funding.
As we approach the new year, we will be looking forward to new opportunities to spur change as well as the return of some old favorites–namely, our annual AMSA Convention in Washington, D.C., complete with Advocacy Day, where we will focus on legislation that aligns with our priorities of expanding health care access, ensuring reproductive justice, and pushing for change in the medical education system.
We are proud of what we have accomplished in 2021 and excited to share and celebrate them with you. We look forward to a bright new year working toward our vision for a world where healthcare is accessible, medicine is affordable, and systems support the diversity we see around us.
Advocacy Priority Advancement:
- Health Care Access
- Endorsed 16 sign-on letters and 4 pieces of legislation, including the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill and Build Back Better package
- Created member calls to action around Build Back Better
- Continued working closely as a co-founder of the Lower Drug Prices Now Campaign
- Community and Public Health Action Committee hosted AMSA’s National Primary Care Week
- Reproductive Justice
- Reproductive Health Project engaged over 700 students from our summer institute, scholars programs, and leadership programs
- Distributed a survey for Reproductive Health Scorecard to students at 60 medical schools to assess undergraduate medical education on APGO abortion care and family planning learning objectives
- Organized 2 mentorship sprints matching 25 mentor/mentee pairs
- Reproductive Health Project grant renewed, and was increased by 10% for year 3!
- Medical Education Reform
- Pitched MedEd Scorecard initiative to content area experts
- Currently pursuing funding for a one-year planning grant
- Engaged 550 students through AMSA Academy and Scholars Programs via 9 organized courses
- Next round of Scholars Programs to begin Jan. 2022
In addition to our advocacy priority advancements, AMSA as an organization improved the quality and usefulness of communications to members with the AMSA Rounds newsletter, led energizing and inspiring Chapter Officer training sessions for about 300 Chapter Officers, and completed a website redesign to bring the most important info to members in true AMSA style.
We also built on valued relationships and forged new ones—U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy spoke with AMSA members and alumni for the first time since his AMSA Convention appearance in 2015 through the new After Hours Speaker Series, and we began exciting new work with influential organizations to include Participant Media, Mandala, Body Interact, and more.
Thank you for being a part of AMSA as we continue to build on 70+ years of excellence! We can’t wait to see what next year brings. Eager to have a part in the action? Learn how to join our movement.