The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), founded in 1950 and based in Washington, D.C., is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. AMSA is a student-governed, national organization that represents the concerns of physicians-in-training. They have a membership of 68,000 medical students, premedical students, interns, medical residents and practicing physicians from across the country.
AMSA's action committees and interest groups help expose medical students to information on subjects not generally covered in traditional curricula, and is the only major national medical organization in the US that accepts no sponsorship or funding from any pharmaceutical company.
In November 2007, AMSA leaders decided upon four strategic priorities:
The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) was founded in 1950, as the Student American Medical Association (SAMA), under the auspices of the American Medical Association (AMA). The main purpose of the organization was to provide medical students a chance to participate in organized medicine.
The late 1960s saw dramatic changes in the organization's objectives and philosophy. In 1967, AMSA established its independence from the AMA, became student-governed, and began to raise its own voice on a variety of socio-medical issues, including civil rights, universal health care and Vietnam.
In a collaboration with medical educators that began in 1968, AMSA proposed numerous reforms and model curricula, to transform medical education in order to make the profession more responsive to community needs. AMSA was also instrumental in the introduction of the original Family Practice Act of 1970, and supported legislation establishing the National Health Service Corps.
AMSA has led a campaign to reform medical resident work hours, long a controversial issue in the field. In 2001 AMSA joined the Committee of Interns & Residents and Public Citizen in filing a petition with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration asking for federal oversight of resident work hours as a matter of workplace safety. AMSA authored the Patient and Physician Safety and Protection Act of 2005, introduced by Senator Jon Corzine (S. 1297) and Representative John Conyers (H.R.1228). AMSA and the Committee of Interns & Residents also jointly maintain a website advocating for work hours reform called Hours Watch that presents the latest scientific research on the topic.
In addition to sponsoring events highlighting prospects for universal health care, medical technology and HIV/AIDS, AMSA also has organized the PharmFree Campaign to educate and train its members to interact professionally and ethically with the pharmaceutical industry.
In September, 2005, AMSA led the National Conference on the Financing of Undergraduate Medical Education, an event that brought together legislators, medical organizations, medical students and others to address skyrocketing medical debt.
A growing contingent of medical students, who believe the medical profession needs more detachment from big pharmaceutical firms, has resulted in a 'modest rebellion' known as the PharmFree project, established by the AMSA in 2002. Spending on marketing to physicians, which includes gifts to med students, rose from $12.1 billion in 1999 to $22 billion in 2003. Based on the premise that taking gifts from pharmaceutical companies creates a conflict of interest for doctors, the AMSA now urges both students and practicing physicians to 'just say no' to all personal gifts from drugmakers.
The PharmFree campaign has included a march on Pfizer offices in New York, where medical students assembled at the firm's front doors and dumped thousands of pens marked with the company's logo on the doorstep. Additionally, AMSA started the Counterdetailing Campaign in 2005 to encourage physicians-in-training to educate practicing physicians about alternative sources of information regarding pharmaceuticals. As "detailing" is the concept of drug representatives selling biased information to physicians, AMSA came up with the concept of "counterdetailing" as an opposing concept, for students to bring physicians evidence-based sources of information. In May of 2007, AMSA released the [PharmFree Scorecard] , the first to evaluate medical schools according to their pharmaceutical interaction policies. Of all the medical schools in the United States, five received a grade of "A," which translates into comprehensive school policy that restricts pharmaceutical representatives to both the medical school campus and its academic medical centers. Forty schools received an "F" for their lack of policies or even encouraging physicians-in-training to obtain information from drug representatives.
Allies and supporters of this campaign include No Free Lunch, AARP , Consumers Union, the Medical Letter, and the National Physicians Alliance .
AMSA is a partner in the Campaign for Children's Health Care, a multi-year campaign to raise awareness about the problem of uninsured children in America.
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