Saturday, April 23, 2011

Policy Things I Think Are Interesting, Part II

1. Recently, I was talking to a fellow student about the new MSSNY policy to remove the exemption for off-shore students to get NYC clerkships. At one point, she said, That's all well and good, but what can MSSNY actually do about it? As I've mentioned before, AMA and MSSNY are advocacy groups that represent physicians' and medical students' interests. They have political action committees -- AMPAC and MSSNYPAC, respectively -- and those PACs have lobbyists to voice our concerns to state and federal government officials. The groups care about expanding health coverage for the uninsured, reforming medical liability, and graduate medical education. Is there something you care about? Join the Physicians Grassroots Network! As a member of "the leading voice for America's physicians in Washington DC," you have a hand in shaping the nation's health and health policy for the better. Get involved today!

2. Public Smoking Ban May Be Nationwide by 2020: It's a misleading title, actually. The CDC collected data on the trend of banning public smoking (in bars, restaurants, etc.) over 25 states in the last 10 years and extrapolated it -- if the trend continues, "the entire nation could have similar bans by 2020." This would be a great advancement, since second-hand smoking has dire health consequences, causing about 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smokers each year. An issue, though, is southern states, of which none have public smoking bans in 2011. However, hope lies in the fact that individual communities have bans, and their sentiments might spread state-wide. There is especially an onus on state legislators in this region -- another reason to get involved with the AMA!

3. Telehealth Rated Top Medical Innovation: A survey of over 100 health sector leaders from around the world found that "technologies that combine data exchange with people-to-people interactions help enable easy, efficient, professional practices." This means electronic medical records and similar technology. The main benefits of telehealth, the study showed, was from increasing efficiency of the healthcare workforce and improving equitable access to care.

4. A New MCAT in 2015?: The AAMC has recommended a series of updates to the trauma-inducing MCAT that would be enacted in 2015 (if all the recommendations are adopted). The new and questionably improved test would have a stronger focus on cell/molecular biology, biochemistry, and social/behavioral sciences. The changes reflect the boon of research in the former fields since the MCAT was last completely revamped (ca. 1990) as well as the importance of ethics and cultural competency in medicine. The updates would also extend the test by another 90 minutes - yikes. Additionally, this would indirectly change pre-med requirements and force students to front-load more upper-level science classes into their college education.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Happens When We're in Class All Day

Lauren Gluck here, your friendly neighborhood VP of Policy & Legislation. It can be hard to stay updated on all the goings-on of health news and policy, so I'm going to try to bring it to you. I'll take five of the most relevant and interesting stories/articles/websites and break them down into need-to-know information. As always, if you have any questions or comments, e-mail me at

1. The brainchild of the ACP, AMA, AAFP, AAP, and many others, this website is a fairly user-friendly guide to decoding what the Affordable Care Act means to you, broken down by state, age group, etc. Take a look at the "timeline" header for a year-to-year evaluation of how ACA will affect >65, <65, physicians, and small business owners.

2. AMA promotes Graduate Medical Education funding: Remember how the MSSNY-MSS called for advocacy to increase residency/GME spots and funding? The AMA is doing just that! This article says, "To ensure an adequate physician workforce and better access to care, proper GME funding is a must." Some of AMA's solutions include: expand GME programs geographically to areas in need; extend GME to include non-hospital training sites, like outpatient settings, nursing homes, and community health centers; and create an all-payer GME system that includes federal and/or state mandates.

3. New ACGME resident duty hour standards: As of July 1 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education will enact new rules for how long residents can work. Some of the updates include: 16-hr (PGY1) and 24-hr (PGY2+) max within 80-hr workweek, one-day-off-in-seven standard, direct supervision for interns (they'll never be the only doctor on their service), and maximum 6 consecutive nights of night float. (Here's a link to all the rules, plus specific rules by specialty program.) How do you feel about this? Take a quick survey from the Eastern Virginia Medical School Dept. of Surgery to voice your opinion as a medical student!

4. How Can I Help Patients Change Unhealthy Behaviors?: Here's an issue I've encountered a lot in preceptor, and I'm sure I'm not alone. This article focuses on Collaboration, Autonomy, and Education to help patients adopt healthier habits. The author tells us to: 1) Resist the "righting reflex" -- you know, when you think explaining the medicine behind, say, smoking, will magically help your patient quit, but often makes the patient resist the change; 2) Understand the patient's motivations; 3) Listen to the patient; and 4) Empower the patient. Easy enough, right? Well… We'll get there.

5. The AMA-MSS Annual Meeting is coming up from June 15-18 in Chicago. It's a great opportunity to meet medical students from all over the country and to learn about issues important to us as medical students and future physicians. Scheduled events include: 3 days of educational programs on a wide range of topics; policy-making sessions; a medical specialty showcase; leadership elections; and an AMA National Service Project event. Interested in attending? Register (free!) here. A few of us from the UB AMA-MSS Executive Board will be going, so you won't be alone!

Friday, April 15, 2011

AMA's 5K Fun Run

To further promote healthy living, the UB AMA hosted a 5K Fun Run yesterday afternoon, April 14th. There were about 15 students who participated. Water and healthy snacks were provided to the participants.

To view their course taken click on this link: MAP
To view more pics CLICK HERE

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kicking off April as our National Public Health Month

The AMA sponsored two events last week to help promote April as the nationally observed Health Month.

On Tuesday April 5th, Mr. Jim Bowman gave a stimulating lunch lecture on LBGTQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Questioning) Health. Wegman's subs were provided as a healthy lunch choice for those who attended. Thanks to the AMA VP's of Community Service, Lisa Linde and Julie Garchow, for organizing the event!

On Thursday April 7th, the AMA e-board gave out healthy pre-exam snacks to the UB First Year Medical Student Class, who were preparing for their renal histology exam last Friday. Before exams is a common time when many students will scramble for easier and faster food options, which is often poor choices such as calorie-rich fast food, chips, candy, etc. To help promote healthy snacking choices before exams, the care-packages consisted of granola bars, apples, string cheese, water, and a promotional ad for the AMA Event on April 30th - Miles for Healthier Lifestyle.

News from MSSNY House of Delegates

This past weekend was the annual MSSNY House of Delegates (HOD) meeting, at which physicians from all over the state get together to decide MSSNY policy. While the AMA-MSSNY chapter here at Buffalo focuses heavily on community service to promote health and physician awareness, these groups are at their hearts advocacy organizations. So it came as no surprise that proposals were raised on issues ranging from restricting children/adolescents from commercial tanning to how to apportion revenue raised by the society to repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Much of the political focus centered on the NYS budget that did not include medical malpractice reform. MSSNY had made a statement that it would not support the budget without these stipulations (caps on pain and suffering litigation, a lower-than-expected fund for infants born with neurological problems, etc.). The HOD was a reminder to all physicians (and future physicians) to play an active role in government by calling up and e-mailing our legislators -- just because we aren't politicians doesn't mean these issues don't affect us!

As far as new policy in the HOD went, the Medical Student Section particularly came out on top. We sponsored four resolutions, all of which were passed by the voting body of MSSNY, the House of Delegates. The proposals were:

1) Promoting financial aid opportunities for NYS medical students. (The importance of this one is fairly obvious.)

2) Expanding graduate medical education (GME) funding for residency spots. The problem is that medical schools keep increasing class sizes and new medical schools are opening, but there are no new residency spots! There is currently a cap on GME funding/new residency spots, and now MSSNY has committed itself to advocate for making sure all of these new doctors will have the appropriate training upon graduation.

3) Expanding MSSNY’s physician database to include an opt-in mentorship program based on race/ethnicity, LGBT status, etc. Based on 2008 data, only 10% of NYS physicians identify as underrepresented minorities, and only about 20% of US medical students do the same.

4) Giving preference to US medical students over offshore students in nearby clerkship sites. This is a big problem in NYC, where many local students are excluded from NYC clerkship rotations due to Caribbean medical schools effectively buying out the clerkship positions.

Additionally, the HOD spent quite a while battling out its position on PPACA. A compromise was reached, and MSSNY’s position is now that it has a specific set of grievances against the bill and supports new legislation to improve any shortcomings, but MSSNY is not 100% against this health care reform.

Overall, it was a very exciting weekend. If anyone is interested in getting involved in the more political side of AMA-MSSNY, contact our VP of Policy/Legislation, Lauren Gluck at