UNC School of Medicine Introduces Partnership with American Medical Student Association

The UNC chapter of the American Medical Student Association kicked off the 2018-19 school year with a brand new partnership. Beginning this year, UNC medical students are able to register for national AMSA memberships at no cost.

The UNC chapter of the American Medical Student Association kicked off the 2018-19 school year with a brand new partnership. Beginning this year, UNC medical students are able to register for national AMSA memberships at no cost. AMSA membership will provide UNC students with access to a variety of resources, including study materials, leadership training and discounted travel for residency interviews.

Dr. Perry Tsai, a graduate of UNC’s MD/PhD program and the current national president of the national AMSA organization, was influential in organizing the partnership. Dr. Tsai said about the initiative, "As national president of AMSA and proud alumnus of UNC SOM, I am beyond excited about this institutional partnership. UNC has always demonstrated a shared mission with AMSA for health equity and student leadership and advocacy, and this partnership will provide opportunities that will strengthen both UNC SOM and AMSA."

AMSA was founded in 1950 as a subsection of the American Medical Association, and later became a separate organization in 1967. AMSA’s mission is to “foster a community of future physicians through education and advocacy,” and the organization has a long history of being outspoken on social issues, expressing strong support for civil rights and universal access to health care.

UNC’s AMSA chapter aims to carry on this tradition of advocacy through their work on a local level. In February, AMSA members from UNC participated in the Moral March in Raleigh organized by the NC NAACP, and BT Parker spoke to the crowd gathered that day about her passion for expanding access to health care. Parker said about her experience, “Being a part of AMSA has really allowed me to delve into the aspects of medicine that maybe I hadn't considered before. Being asked to speak in front of hundreds of people to represent medicine at UNC was an honor in and of itself, but helped remind me that, even as a first year medical student, we all have a responsibility to find our voices and use them to fight for those we are committed to serving.”

UNC AMSA members also took part in White Coat Wednesdays during the spring semester. These events are organized by the NC Medical Society and held weekly when the NC legislature is in session. White Coat Wednesdays gives physicians – and now medical students – the opportunity to meet state legislators and discuss issues regarding health care. Students last year were able to sit down with elected officials and talk about the importance of affordable access to medical care, as well as the need to expand opportunities for resident physicians to begin their careers in rural areas of the state.

At the first UNC AMSA event of the fall 2018 semester, there was a standing-room only crowd of new medical students. They were there to hear from Sue Ann Forrest, an assistant director for legislative and potential action at the NCMS. Forrest spoke to the students about the importance of being politically active through voting and advocacy, and informed them about their ability to participate in White Coat Wednesdays.

Zach Fisher, one of the co-presidents of UNC AMSA, said of the event: “We believe it’s important to get medical students to think about what their responsibility to their patients looks like outside of clinic walls. Working with the Medical Society lets us think about how policy affects health care, and how we can use our influence as future professionals to improve public health and access to care, so we can make things better for our patients.”

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