Home > Medical/Health Commentary, Miscellany > Live from AMSA 2011…

Live from AMSA 2011…

The American Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is one of the many professional (or in this case, pre-professional) organizations that represents various slices of the medical community. Of these, they are by far the biggest embarrassment to the medical community that I have encountered. Not just because they take positions with which I wildly disagree — that would be entirely acceptable. Rather, because they base their support for their policy positions on nothing more substantive than vague generalities and pleasant-sounding buzzwords and phrases.

Of course, this means that when the SUMS AMSA chapter sent out a call for students interested in attending AMSA’s 2011 annual conference in Washington DC, I pounced.

So here I am, braving the (acute) rainy weather and the (chronic) oppressive sterility of DC and its suburbs to bring you, my loyal readers, the latest and greatest updates from what is already promising to be a most entertaining boondoggle.

A sampling of macro-level AMSA Follies that pre-date the conference:

  • AMSA believes strongly in left-wing solutions to healthcare, and are particular fans of single-payer. Nothing wrong with that, disagree though I might. Of course, that their senior advocacy and policy staff regularly confuse “single-payer” and “universal coverage” could lead one to believe that they don’t have the intellectual backing for the talk they’re talking. Most of their stated rationale consists of the usual empty mom-and-apple-pie rhetoric that one expects from a campaigning politician, not a group that expects to be taken seriously on the policy issues.
  • AMSA is a big pusher of the pharm-free movement, releasing an annual scorecard comparing medical schools’ policies on physician-pharm conflicts of interest. There are many polemical t-shirts on sale to this effect.In my view (and in that of many others), they’ve gone way too far… almost to the point of McCarthyism. Of course, this hasn’t stopped their conference from taking sponsorship money and selling booths to all manner of medical informatics companies, medical device companies, medical publishers, medical test prep companies, and of course… government.
  • AMSA is a big believer in “woo” (aka quackery of all stripes). Not only do they sponsor summer courses in such delightful nonsense as “therapeutic touch” (“reiki”), but they also invite the quacks into their conference. The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges has a booth here, and various naturopathic “schools” from across North America have sent students.

This group claims to represent the future doctors of America. What scares me is that they actually might.

Stick around for the weekend for more AMSA Follies, and be sure to see what I’m up to on Twitter (@nwsblog), or by following the #amsaconv2011 hashtag. The connectivity here is spotty, but I hope to provide commentary in as real-time-as-possible on the weekend’s shenanigans.

This is one window into the world of medical organizations you won’t want to miss.

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