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AMA Interim Conference 2016 – Orlando, FL

As you might imagine, attending a health policy conference (AMA Interim Meeting) two days after a Presidential election was quite a whirlwind! The workshop that my committee coordinated on post-election advocacy overflowed with students and physicians ready to learn how the coming changes to our government may impact health care, and access to care for their patients. Though the results of this election have challenged my optimism, I left feeling *slightly* more empowered with a better idea of where our national health policy discussions are headed.


Todd Askew, Director of AMA Congressional Affairs Division addresses students & physicians

At the conference, students, residents, and physicians pushed for and passed a resolution that calls upon the AMA to actively engage the incoming Trump Administration and Congress in discussions on the future direction of health care, with a special focus regarding patient access to care and patient health insurance coverage.

In the student section, another resolution that I helped craft regarding the integration of patient drug costs into electronic medical records also passed! My classmate and leader of this resolution team, Vinay Guduguntla, spoke with confidence and conviction on the merits of this resolution in assembly. Now the hard work of refining our thinking and establishing support in the overall physician membership to the AMA House of Delegates begins.


AMA Research Symposium (Alex Kelsall, Nonie Arora, Hannah Cheriyan)

While at the conference, I really appreciated the opportunity to see friends and colleagues who I’ve been working with remotely on our AMA-MSS national Committee on Legislation and Advocacy. Working with these students from around the country has been a highlight of my second year of medical school.

In addition to the policy portion of the conference, several of us presented research. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my work in newborn quality improvement and for the financial support from UMMS that made this possible.

Thankfully, there was some time for relaxation and even “studying” by the pool.




HOSA International (High School) Leadership Conference in Nashville, TN

In June, I travelled to Nashville, TN with a group of high school students for the HOSA International Leadership Conference. I loved interacting with students who are interested in medical fields, including public health, physical therapy, nursing, clinical medicine, and more!

Me and my high school genetics teacher, who is the fearless leader of the 300+ Novi High School HOSA students

On the General Jackson cruise with my high school genetics teacher, who is the fearless leader of the 300+ Novi High School HOSA students

The students who attended the conference had already qualified from through multiple rounds of competition at their local and state levels.  I had the opportunity to attend as a chaperone after learning about the conference from my sister who attended as a competitor. The events that students competed in varied, and included topics that are applied, such as sports medicine. (Side note: I was amazed that one of the other chaperones injured her ankle, one of the high school students knew exactly how to tape it!) Other students also competed in events where they had to create a public service announcement or public health outreach program in their community.

While I was there chaperoning kids from my old high school (Novi), I also had the opportunity to judge the Biomedical Debate event. The debate topic was whether the benefits of genetically modified foods outweigh the harms. This is very relevant topic given the recent legislation proposed (at the time of this event) and passed by the House (now) that requires the labeling of some GMO foods. It was also the perfect event for me to judge given my concentration in Genome Sciences & Policy as an undergrad at Duke. I was very impressed by students’ quality of preparation and research! I knew that they were doing an excellent job because I found myself being swayed to the affirmative or negative side depending on the quality of their arguments in each round.

Finally, I wouldn’t be the proud older sister that I am if I didn’t mention that my sister’s team placed fourth in the category of Community Awareness! So exciting! As a whole, Novi High School had 27 top 10 finalists, one 3rd place finish, and three 2nd place finishes. What an amazing crew.

In addition to all the conference programming, we also had the chance to go line dancing. Now, back in Ann Arbor I am excitedly awaiting the arrival of the new M1s!

In addition to all the medical fun, we also had the chance to go line dancing!

Line Dancing in Nashville


Innovation and Policy at AMA Annual Meeting

Earlier this month, a group of UMMS students travelled to Chicago, IL for the AMA Annual Meeting as delegates from our school to the medical student section.

UMMS Crew at AMA Annual

UMMS at AMA Annual in Chicago, IL

In addition to voting on policy issues that affect medical students, physicians, and patients, we also attended educational sessions such as “professional advocacy in an election year” and “outbreaks and the olympics,” which was focused on the Zika virus and other communicable diseases.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was attending the AMA Healthier Nation Innovation Challenge finals. There, we had the opportunity to hear from innovative startups about how they are solving pressing issues in healthcare.

These remarkable projects ranged from a technology solution that empowers first responders to share real-time patient data with healthcare providers in hospitals (Twiage) to a novel catheter that self-disinfects using phototherapy. Amazing solutions that are widely applicable!

The final day of the conference we attended reference committee meetings for the House of Delegates, which is the full voting body of the AMA. I particularly enjoyed hearing and live tweeting the debate on the End Step 2CS resolution that Andy Zureick (M4 from UMMS) and other students and physicians from across the country had been working hard on. Step 2 Clinical Skills has not been shown to improve patient care or education quality, has an extremely high pass rate, yet costs medical students over a thousand dollars plus travel time and expenses. The proposal to advocate for elimination of this exam in its current form was passed in a form that combined four separate resolutions with the same intent.

We are all grateful to the Washtenaw County Medical Society and the Michigan State Medical Society for providing funding without which we may not have been able to attend! I look forward to continuing to work on AMA projects:  Andy and I were elected to leadership roles at the Regional level. He will be serving as our region 5 vice chair and will be serving as our region 5 AMA foundation liasion.

Attending this meeting was incredible opportunity to partipate in policy-making and connect with students and physicians across the country. I left feeling more energized to lend my voice and enthusiasm to organized medicine & health policy!

Spring Break in the Rockies

It really felt like Spring Break could not have come at a more opportune time. Many of my classmates, including myself, were ready for a change after our unit on the central nervous system. The brain is fascinating, but there sure are a lot of parts to memorize! The nuclei, and tracts, and many specific anatomical features in the head and neck can seem never-ending. After CNS, we had a week of practicing our diagnostic skills during Chief Concern week, and then we were finally off to Spring Break.


Beautiful hike over packed snow

I spent the first half of break in Colorado with one of my college roommates, Martha. We spent a few days in Boulder and in Denver and had a chance to hike up the Flatirons and across frozen lakes and up mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park. The experience was exhilarating. I had never been that high up on a mountain before! The panoramic views were incredible and I just couldn’t contain my excitement. It’s amazing how much better food tastes, too, after spending all day moving.

Now that break is almost over, I feel so much more refreshed and ready to head back into a stretch of intense learning. (I wish my ears would catch up though; they have yet to equalize the pressure correctly post-mountains. After CNS I can picture exactly what my Eustachian tube needs to do to re-equilibrate). The M1s are starting the infectious disease sequence on Monday, which I have heard great things about. You know a class has to be good if the upperclassmen have made T-shirts with the professor on them. After this trip, I’m also a lot more motivated to keep up with a rigorous exercise routine so I can take on harder hiking and climbing routes this summer. Here’s to new challenges, warmer days, and staying mentally well in this last stretch of the semester!


Traveling to Capitol Hill

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.


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.