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AMA conference yields new insights for students

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During the American Medical Association’s annual conference this summer, five College of Medicine students were present, as well as Senior Associate Dean Alma Littles.

“It was my last meeting as academic section chair,” said Littles. “The students had their own meetings with the medical student section, and they were very excited.”

In attendance were Class of 2019 students (from left) Thomas Paterniti, Sara Ardila, Emily Deibert, Mark Kastner and Timothy Walsh. The conference took place June 11-15 in Chicago.

“We discussed issues such as cultural competency training in medical schools, the role of spirituality in a patient’s health, mental health resources in medical schools, and the possible elimination of the USMLE Step 2 CS,” said Ardila, secretary of the AMA-FMA interest group.

Both Ardila and Kastner were part of a team of students who served on the Logistics Committee for the General Assembly meeting.

Kastner was the author of three resolutions. Two sought to help the mentally ill in underserved areas, while the third proposed easier access to fresh foods in food deserts.

“None of them passed the General Assembly, but I plan to continue to work to make them stronger for a better chance at passing the medical student section and propose related policies," said the treasurer of the AMA-FMA interest group. 

Walsh, who was in Chicago conducting summer research, attended “Upholding the Hippocratic Oath When Providers Face Discrimination from Patients.”

“Presenters stressed that when you are not a part of the minority group, you have a duty to be aware of micro-aggressions, defined as racism or debasement of any minority group, and to intervene,” said Walsh. “Only by speaking out against micro-aggressions can we create an environment where both our patients and colleagues can thrive. This kind of awareness and ability to listen are what make a good physician.”

Similarly, Kastner now understands more about what it takes to create change in health-care policy.

“I learned how important it is for students to get involved with health-care policy early,” said Kastner. “This is going to directly affect us once we graduate, and the things I learned at the conference will put me in a better position to create change. The skills I have gained will also allow me to better advocate for my future patients on a national level.”