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In my last post, I promised an update on the advocacy efforts of our student chapter of the AMA, and I have many developments to report! In February, we hosted a seminar where students had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Sharon Swindell and pediatrics residents about how they advocate for patients. It was inspiring to hear stories about how their actions have improved the lives of their patients even beyond the medical realm. In particular, Dr. Swindell presented a pyramid chart on the different levels of advocacy that really resonated with me. The base was built upon advocating for one patient/family at a time, with the next level as office-based family advocacy services, followed by community advocacy through programs like CATCH grants, and finally legislative advocacy. Each physician can choose to be part of any or all levels of advocacy for patients.

Even before medical school, I would have considered myself a pragmatist. Now, even more so, I believe in the power of incremental positive change. I had the chance to be a part of that this past week at an advocacy and region conference of the AMA in Washington, DC.

AMAadvocacytrip

University of Michigan delegation to advocacy conference in Washington DC

I felt well prepared to speak with legislators and their staffers after previously attending Washtenaw County Medical Society legislative update meetings and trainings through the AMA conference. The issues that we focused on on Capitol Hill were public service loan forgiveness programs and protecting graduate medical education funding. Personal stories have the power to influence the actions and votes that our representatives in Congress take! It is both a privilege and a responsibility to make our voices heard as medical students.

At the Intel Science Talent Search poster presentation

At the Intel Science Talent Search poster presentation with Michelle Hackman and Caitlin Sullivan

In DC, I also had a chance to attend my favorite science fair, the Intel Science Talent Search, with friend and fellow STS 2011 alum, Michelle Hackman, and it was great to reminisce and see all of the fascinating projects presented by current STS finalists. And, I still managed to make time for some March Madness and see my alma mater (Duke) play in the ACC conference in DC.

I had just taken my missed quiz after the conference when I was called in the middle in the night and found out that the pregnant patient I had been following since October was in labor! I was so excited that I arrived at the hospital several hours before needed and was able to be a part of two deliveries. I am so grateful to those patients for allowing me the privilege to participate in and learn from that important moment in their lives.

Time to return to memorizing tracts and nuclei for the current M1 CNS sequence.

Nonie Arora is a third-year medical student at University of Michigan Medical School. She is deeply invested in health policy initiatives and quality improvement research. She can be followed on Twitter @nonie_arora.