UNC School of Medicine Students Participate in AMA’s Student Led Conference on Leadership

Students from all 32 institutions participating in the American Medical Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium gathered at the University of Michigan to discuss the future of medical education.

More than 200 students from the 32 medical schools that make up the American Medical Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium gathered in Ann Arbor, Michigan to discuss trends in medical education and brainstorm ideas that will ensure medical school graduates are prepared to enter the dynamic world of health care.

Seven UNC School of Medicine students – Nikita Patel, Katie Butler DeGraef, Ammu Vijay, Laura Trollinger Derry, Lacy English, Alex Plattner, and Stephanie Sun – and one faculty member, Mindy Storrie, attended the conference. Vijay and Derry spent the last year serving on the planning committee for the conference, which centered on student leadership in medical education with themes of longitudinal leadership development, wellness, and cultural change.

Both Vijay and Derry said they were excited to participate in the conference and bring ideas from the other participating institutions back to Chapel Hill and share what UNC is doing with others.

“Seeing what some of the other schools were doing was really inspiring,” Derry said. “Health care is changing at such a fast rate, you really do have to be adaptable.”

They also said the experience helped confirm for them that UNC is heading in the right direction, and praised the School of Medicine’s leadership for being open and listening to students about changes that can improve medical education.

“There is a lot of openness to change, and, more importantly, we can see steps being taken to implement these suggestions,” Vijay said.

At the conference, all participants were able to break out into teams of four to create curricular proposals related to the categories of leadership development, wellness, and culture change. Three teams with UNC student members were selected as finalists, and Derry’s team, which focused on wellness, was selected as the winner and will participate in the AMA’s ChangeMedEd national conference which will be held in September in Chicago.

Using momentum from the conference, Derry and Vijay are both interested in creating more leadership opportunities for medical students and helping them to define their professional identities, developing communications and team building skills that may not otherwise come until later in their careers.

“All physicians are automatically leaders, which brings with it a lot of responsibility in terms of communication and support of the other members of your health care teams. But, you can’t really be an effective leader until you think of yourself that way, so we’re interested in creating some focused opportunities for medical students to gain these skills so that we all think of ourselves as leaders,” Vijay said.

Plans are already moving forward, with the creation of a leadership curriculum, another example of students helping to lead change at the UNC School of Medicine.

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