AMSA On Call
  • Concierge Medicine

    Concierge medicine has become increasingly popular in recent years. These physicians are frustrated with the health care system and want to offer their patients a better alternative.

    According to a 2013 compensation report by medical resource company Medscape, 7% of family doctors, 7% of internists and 4% of pediatricians are cash-only practices. These physicians charge monthly membership fees, similar to a gym membership. Appointments are longer, lab work is included, and medication is offered at cheaper rates. With this model, doctors are able to see fewer patients, provide better care, and still make the same, if not more money. 

    According to Concierge Medicine Today (yes, there is already a trade magazine dedicated to the industry!), there are 5,500 concierge practices across the country. About 2/3 of these practices charge less than $135 per month. 

    Is concierge medicine something you would consider after graduation? Very interested to hear from our members on this topic. 

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  • Medical Humanities Institute

    By Aliye Runyan, M.D.
    AMSA Education and Research Fellow

    The AMSA Medical Humanities Institute was held the first weekend of April, bringing 24 medical and pre-medical students from around the country to AMSA headquarters just outside of D.C.

    The three-day workshop highlighted the importance of the narrative in a patient's history, provider-patient communication, reflective writing for well-being of both patients and providers, and skills for maintaining balance in medical training, including yoga and meditation. The institute keynote (for the second year in a row), was Rita Charon, director of the Department of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, and founder of the field of narrative medicine. She instructed the group through a writing exercise, spoke about the importance of listening to the patient, and explained her process of shared notes with her patients, where patients are able to edit and contribute to their medical history and plan throughout.

    Other sessions included an overview of humanities in medical education with Gretchen Case from the University of Utah, a poetry workshop with nurse and poet Veneta Masson, a writing and film session with Linda Raphael from George Washington University, expressive writing with Nancy Morgan from the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown, and meditation / yoga therapy with instructors from the Beloved Yoga Studio in Reston, Virginia.

    Overall, the students had a wonderful experience and a renewed sense of community that they will take back to their universities to begin projects in the medical humanities - to create awareness and build knowledge amongst both peers and faculty of the skill set which humanities provides to medical care.

    The institute was generously sponsored by the Arnold P Gold Foundation and the Brown University Department of Emergency Medicine.

    "One of the biggest things I took away from the institute was the idea that swinging the pendulum of medicine back towards the human element will require not only bringing medical humanities aspects to clinics and practitioner training programs, but doing so in a way that still fits into the current standards of performance and improvement evaluations. It's also our responsibility to call attention to what we measure, how, and why, in hopes that one day the standards won't be complete without what we are now desperately struggling to include." - Ronald Canepa

    "Too often, we take for granted the experiences and skills most likely to change the course of our professional lives. By attending the institute, I refined my understanding of healing as an art, rather than purely a science." - Ajleeta Sangtani

    Photo by Lorenzo Sewanan

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  • AMSA Supports Dr. Murthy Appointment for U.S. Surgeon General

    AMSA, representing almost 40,000 physicians-in-training in the United States, supports the appointment of Dr. Vivek Murthy for U.S. Surgeon General. Dr. Murthy was a member of AMSA during his medical training.

    Nominated by President Barack Obama, Dr. Vivek Murthy has garnered intense opposition from the National Rifle Association and its supporters for his long-time support of increased gun regulations for private owners in the United States.

    Guns are involved in about 85 deaths each day in this country. Each year, more than 60,000 people suffer nonfatal injuries from guns.

    According to AMSA National President Dr. Nida Degesys, "As the founder of Doctors for America and a former emergency room physician, he has dedicated himself to expanding access of affordable health care and advocating for his patients. The role of the U.S. Surgeon General should be to advocate on behalf of a public health crisis, such as gun violence. With his past experience and insight into the crisis, AMSA believes Dr. Murthy is ready to become ‘the nation’s physician.’”

    AMSA urges the enactment of effective federal violence prevention legislation which calls for a ban on the sale, manufacture, importation, ownership and possession of guns in the United States, except for police, military and hunting purposes. The organization also encourages further studies on violence as a public health emergency.

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  • Newly Elected AMSA National Leaders

    Britani Kessler, fourth year medical student at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine, will begin serving her term as AMSA National President on May 1, 2014. Kessler will work full-time at AMSA’s national office, Sterling, Virginia, where she will chair the Board of Trustees, represent almost 40,000 physicians-in-training, maintain alliances with other organizations and visit AMSA chapters across the country. 

    “AMSA is an exceptional organization that inspires a community of future physicians through education and advocacy,” says Kessler. “I’m honored and excited to serve as national president and plan on focusing on medical student debt and AMSA's Just Medicine campaign. I look forward to working with AMSA members across the country and helping them to realize their power as members of the medical community. The face of medicine is ever-changing and our members need to stay informed and active. As the future of medicine, we know that changes must be made and I believe our exceptional programming and wonderful leaders will accomplish so much over the coming year."

    At the recent AMSA Annual Convention, Deborah Vozzella Hall, third year medical student at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, was elected President-Elect. She will serve for one year before becoming National President on May 1, 2015. Hall is currently AMSA’s Vice President for Internal Affairs and has previously served as National Secretary and co-director for AMSA’s Health Care for All Campaign.

    Newly elected members of the 2014-2015 AMSA Board of Trustees:

    President: Britani Kessler, Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine
    President-Elect: Deborah Vozzella Hall, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
    Vice President for Internal Affairs: Kelly Thibert, Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine
    Vice President for Membership: Tripp Hines, ETSU Quillen College of Medicine
    Vice President of Program Development: Perry Tsai, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Vice President of Leadership Development: Sahar Barfchin, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
    Secretary: Joshua Weinstock, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
    Graduate Trustee: Vacant
    International Trustee: Janell Johnson, Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
    Premedical Trustee: Isaiah Cochran, Waynesburg University
    Immediate Past President: Nida Degesys, MD
    The New Physician Student Editor: Luke Messac, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
    Ex-officio member: Joshua Caulfield, IOM, AMSA Executive Director

    2014-2015 AMSA Fellowship Position:

    Education & Research Fellow: Rachel Glassford, graduate student at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University

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  • Virtual Cadavers in Training

    The first time you touch a cadaver is unforgettable for most medical students. But across the country, future physicians are beginning to use virtual cadavers. Is the experience the same as feeling an actual human body, skin, and organs?

    Virtual cadavers range from a simpler tablet app to a large 3-D dissection table that are build by Web designers and come from scanning an actual cadaver. The technology is improving every day and it allows students to study 24-7, whereas many cadaver labs host limited hours on campus. 

    But there are limitations as well. With a virtual cadaver you can’t move a muscle and look underneath it or get the chance to feel the internal organs. But advocates for the technology say that virtual cadavers are simply an addition to the traditional training and won’t replace actual cadavers. 

    Have you used a virtual cadaver? Tell us about the experience. Do you think using virtual cadavers will make medical training better?


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  • Match Day: Like Sorority Rush?

    By Owen Farcy
    Kaplan Test Prep

    Last week's Match Day saw many celebrations throughout the country as 4th year medical students learned where they'll be spending their residency years. A quick glance at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on Friday saw countless photos of students laughing, jumping for joy, and even a handful of proposals as long-awaited envelopes were opened.

    The National Residency Matching Process, more commonly known simply as "the Match", is a process that combines feelings of excitement and trepidation in much the same way as the medical school application process. Kaplan's Emily Hause, a current medical student and regular writer for the Med School Pulse blog, describes the Match as similar to sorority rush. "They have a secret list of ideal candidates and you have your ranked lists of ideal places to end up. However, unlike some sororities, the NRMP is very official and explicit in their selection process."

    The algorithm used in the Match, according to the NRMP website, "begins with an attempt to match an applicant to the program most preferred on that applicant’s rank order list (ROL). If the applicant cannot be matched to that first choice program, an attempt is made to place the applicant into the second choice program, and so on, until the applicant obtains a tentative match or all the applicant’s choices on the ROL have been exhausted.”

    Unfortunately, not every medical student successfully matches - according to initial data from the AAMC, 'it appears that several hundred U.S. medical students did not match to a first-year residency training program" in 2014. With a looming shortage of physicians in the U.S. and the recent expansion of seats in both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, there are very real fears that the problem will only get worse in years to come, as "there may be too few residency positions for all the newly graduated doctors in the not-too-distant future."

    Fortunately, both the AAMC and AACOM have recognized the issue and are actively working with the government in an effort to expand funding for Graduate Medical Education. As the system for medical education continues to evolve in the coming years, one thing is certain - Kaplan will continue working with students to support them throughout their journey towards becoming successful physicians.

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  • Video goes viral: U.S. Senate Hearing on Single-Payer System

    The U.S. Senate’s subcommittee on primary health and aging held a hearing with the theme, “What can the U.S. learn about health care from other countries?” Convened by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the hearing featured discussions of health care systems in Canada, Taiwan, Denmark and France. 

    Perhaps the most memorable portion of the hearing was the debate over a single payer system, in which Canadian physician Dr. Danielle Martin faced off against North Carolina Senator Richard Burr. Dr. Martin fields Senator Burr’s questions admirably, and debunks many misconceptions about Canada’s single-payer system that Burr brings up.

    A video of the debate was uploaded onto YouTube by Senator Bernie Sanders, and has since been spread across media sites with the headlines praising Dr. Martin for “schooling”, “smacking down”, and “dropping some serious knowledge on” the Republican senator. Hopefully, the flood of media attention on this single-payer debate will ultimately help persuade Americans to support a single-payer system in the US. In her final response, Dr. Martin makes an important and perhaps disturbing observation about the current U.S. healthcare system:

    North Carolina Senator Burr: On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? Do you know?
    Dr. Martin: I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.

    Watch the entire video here:

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  • Charting A Course to Medical School: AMSA's Map for Success, Final Post

    We have really enjoyed posting this series for potential medical school applicants. Below are some additional resources that may help you along the way.

    All the best as you chart your own course to medical school! 

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  • Charting A Course to Medical School: PART XI

    This is one of the topics most of you have been waiting for! Let's talk about Financial Aid ....

    Financial aid is becoming more scarce today for students pursuing careers in the medical field. Some alternatives are employment, aid directly from a private source, federal scholarship programs and grants, and federal loans. The funds necessary for medical education today can no longer come directly from medical schools. Students must seek financial aid alternatives outside their college.

    Aid granted directly from private sources is very difficult to find. Nevertheless, there are many foundations willing to support your education. The best scholarship foundations are those with large assets located within your state and particular area of interest. For example, some hospitals and other large health-care-providing organizations offer scholarships to students willing to commit a few years of service to their organization ("support-for-service" aid). Some states offer their own loan-repayment programs (largely support-for-service), but these vary widely from state to state.

    Federal scholarship programs for medical students are very limited. There are two such programs: The Exceptional Financial Need Scholarship, which requires primary care commitment, and the Financial Assistance for Disadvantaged Health Professions Students Scholarship. In general, scholarships -- gift aid -- are largely need based only.

    The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program is an excellent program sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service. The NHSC offers competitive support-for-service scholarships for tuition and educational fees, books, supplies, as well as a monthly stipend. All citizens enrolled in U.S. allopathic or osteopathic medical schools are eligible. Recipients are obligated to serve in physician shortage areas as assigned by the NHSC. The minimum service obligation for this program is two years. The NHSC gives preference to persons with primary care specialty goals and students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds (and/or come from primary care deficient areas). Highest priority is given to individuals who are former recipients of the NHSC Scholarship Program.

    Most of the financial aid money available to medical students comes in the form of loans, e.g. the Federal Stafford Loan for students ($8,000 for two semesters), the Federal Supplemental Loan for students ($10,000), and the Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL). Other types of loans include MEDLOANS, Health Professions Loans (primary care commitment only), and Loans for Disadvantaged Students.

    To receive federal loans you must first find a private lender (all lenders are required to charge the same interest rate on federal loans) and consider the individual nuances of each type of loan in relation to your situation. For instance, although Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans are more difficult to qualify for, the government pays the straight eight percent interest for these loans as long as students do not work; the government does not do this with Federal Unsubsidized Loans.

    The search for financial aid is very tedious. The first step is to find out whether your prospective medical college and/or university processes loans and other aid; the second is to seek them out for advice. Most schools have financial aid advisement centers and all schools have an office responsible for processing financial aid. Use both of these resources to create a realistic budget and find advice about locating the kind of aid most appropriate for your situation.

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  • Charting A Course to Medical School: PART X


    The interview factors greatly in the decision making process of an admissions committee. It is important, though, to remember that it is not the only factor. Prior to an interview, the admissions committee only has statistics on a piece of paper to try to deduce what type of person is behind the facts. They use the interview to see if you possess the qualities necessary to become a successful physician.

    In most cases, the interview is not meant to be a pressure cooker of facts and figures. You, the interviewee, are not on trial (although you may feel like it). The committee is trying to find out what kind of person you are, what your interests are, and what your motivations are. There are a few interviewers who will want to see how you react in stressful situations. When this happens, take a deep breath and think before you speak.

    Some interviewers have a standard set of questions, but many questions will come from essays submitted with your application. Be honest in your essay, because the interviewer may ask you to expand on parts of it. If you exaggerate, it may become apparent to the interviewer. Your answers may then become the basis for further questions.

    Political and health-related issues may come up, so it would be a good idea to be familiar with the news. (For links to potential issues in the news, be sure to check Today's Health and Medical News published on the AMSA website daily.) Make sure you are able to back up every answer, especially if you are taking a stand on a particular issue. If you do not know what the interviewer is talking about, it is better to be honest and say "I don't know," instead of dancing your way around an answer. Interviewers like to see that you are not too proud to admit that you do not know everything. Remember that the interviewer is usually more knowledgeable than you, and can tell if you are insincere or if you really know what you are talking about.

    The interview does not have to be one-sided either. If you have questions in mind about relevant topics, especially about the school, ask them. This shows that you have really taken an interest in the school and also gives you time to relax. The interview also gives you an opportunity to discuss certain aspects of your application.

    Remember, the interviewer must be able to present and defend your case to the rest of the admissions committee (either in person or in writing), so they must be able to learn much about you in a short amount of time.

    What do interviewers look at?

    • Nonverbal & verbal communication skills.
    • Appearance & behavior.
    • Use of vocabulary.
    • Confidence level & honesty.
    • Sincerity.

    What should you do?

    • Ask questions of the interviewer.
    • Inquire about the school.
    • Ask schools in the same area to coincide interview dates.
    • Relax, be yourself.

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What is AMSA On Call?

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