Arooshi Kumar, MS2
Two weekends ago, post-block exam five for the MS2s: Mellad Khoshnood, and I as well as three MS1s, Raijta Kumar, John Mittel, Reba Hodge road-tripped to Detroit, Michigan to attend the American Medical Association’s Medical Student Section (AMA-MSS) Region V Conference. The AMA is the largest organization of physicians and doctors-in-training, while the MSS arm of the AMA is the largest and most influential health organization in the nation for medical students. Region V consists of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia. While we primarily attended this conference to represent the University of Louisville SOM in the AMA-MSS Public Health Case Competition, we left inspired and surprised by how much impact the AMA has on medical education, health policy, and clinical practice. Hearing from an array of accomplished physicians and esteemed members of the AMA-MSS leadership, I, particularly, left with a renewed vision of why I initially wanted to be doctor.
During my undergrad career, the internship opportunities I participated in piqued my interest in neuroscience and health policy research. I explored the disparities in healthcare coverage for cancer diagnostics across the nation and methods to eliminate a vicious eye disease in Africa. These opportunities sculpted my ultimate goal of becoming a physician translating research into pertinent clinical health policy. However, once medical school started, my interest in health policy took a backseat to the notes, books, and lectures that came my way.
This AMA conference reminded me that even as medical students, we have a voice to drive change. The Public Health Case Competition provided a formal platform for a group of us medical students to brainstorm, plan out, and propose a theory of change to resolve a large-scale health issue. In order to devise a comprehensive solution, we were required to factor in the social, political, economical and cultural implications of our solution which demanded much research from our end. Moreover, we had to include a feasible budget (having $1M to spend), timeline, and had to provide metrics on how we would test the efficacy of the solution. The entire experience was mentally stimulating, physically exhausting, and at times frustrating. Most importantly, it served as a simulated, yet, realistic portrayal of the complexity one faces when trying to solve real world public health problems.
After presenting our solution, we had the opportunity to hear from some exceptional speakers. The AMA-MSS Governing Council Chair described ways the AMA impacted his medical school experience and the opportunities he gained from it. He illustrated how proposals to either change an existing health policy or create an entirely new one has the potential to be passed by the AMA-MSS and then by the AMA House of Delegates, usually consisting of practicing doctors. If successfully passed through these bodies, the proposal can then be taken to Congress in DC to become an official law. In addition, the Chair described AMA-MSS as an incredible medium for networking, affording medical students vast opportunities to meet medical students from across the nation embodying various ideas, perspectives, and experiences.
It’s easy to lose sight of our initial goals during medical school, especially during our 1st and 2nd years, when we are more removed from the clinic. However, I encourage all medical students to continue to fuel your interests in medicine by attending relevant conferences like the AMA and talking to people who are just as passionate and excited about contributing to change you hope to be apart of! Never forget that even as medical students, we have a voice, a vision, and a (developing) mental capacity that can lead to actionable change when nurtured in the appropriate environment with the proper tools and contacts.