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AMSA Divide

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by scrappydawg, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. scrappydawg

    scrappydawg Member
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    As a Pre-MSI, I've heard a bit about AMSA (both good and bad). From med students I've spoken with, is seems people either love it or hate it.

    For those that have had experiences with this group, could you please share them so I have a little more tangible idea about what it is?

    Thanks
    scrappy
     
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  3. BassDominator

    BassDominator Senior Member
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    It's essentially a version of the AMA for medical students. A lot of what they do is lobbying in Washington. If you're the political type.... you'll find it right up your alley.
     
  4. BassDominator

    BassDominator Senior Member
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    I think AMSA can do a lot of good. The problem sometimes is that local chapters tend to have one or two people who run the show and the rest of the members aren't very involved. So, it's no surprise that a lot of people disagree with the leadership.
     
  5. axm397

    axm397 SDN Moderator
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    I was one of my school's AMSA chapter presidents, and also held a national position in AMSA. There's definitely a fundamental difference between the AMA and AMSA. AMSA broke away from the AMA more than 50 years ago as an independent and entirely student run organization.

    There definitely is a difference in the atmosphere at AMSA conventions and AMA conventions. AMSA is more grass-roots and a bit more liberal. (gay/lesbian issues, diversity in medicine, complementary/alternative medicine, residency work hours, universal health care, medical student abuse, etc...) AMA is more politically conservative. The AMSA is entirely medical student-run. (Docs can be alums but only students are active voting members.) The AMA is mostly docs with a sub-division for students. AMSA gives you the warm and fuzzies. AMA gives you the political slickness and networking. If I had to categorize, AMSA would be more like democrats (although I would venture to guess that AMSA is more diverse than the AMA - so plenty of conservative republicans in AMSA) and AMA more like republicans.

    Which one is better for you? I would say it depends on what your own personal political views are... if you like the status quo and are more on the conservative side, I'd go with the AMA. If you are more liberal and think students can make a difference, go with AMSA - it's more hands on. The AMA-MSS also lobbies but can get trumped by the physicians section. For example, it took a while for the AMA-MSS to get on the band wagon for residency work hours while AMSA is constantly lobbying for novel concepts. Sometimes, I found they could be a little too radical - like saying no to pharm reps. (I like my pens.)

    I joined both. I agree with AMSA about certain issues and enjoyed socializing more with the AMSA ppl but I liked the political/financial power of the AMA. Both have great leadership opportunities. I also joined the SNMA, AMWA, and APAMSA. :clap: Hope this helps
     
  6. TysonCook

    TysonCook Senior Member
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    It's hard as there are separate issues that you may support and not support that they tend to go with. For example (as used earlier) the lobbying of socialized medicine (which many physicians do not support) and the lobbying for medical liability reform (which others do support). They get around this by being able to donate separately for each issue.

    Even if you are not politically active, it is important to see what they have to say, as they are the major lobbying group for physicians.

    Overall, the medical profession has a piss-poor track record of standing up for their rights, and protecting their profession. I think that it is inherent to those that choose medicine (a lot of "quite types" that study a lot, and don't really get too heated about anything). So hit up their website www.ama-assn.org , and see what is going on. and for the love of god, get out vote, and make your voice heard (especially w/liability reform). If we keep w/things going the way they are, eventullay we may not have any voice at all. (btw, I'm not a member of either, but i like to stay atop of things)
     
  7. Yeah, I hadn't realized how political AMSA was. I joined them in freshman year of college because I thought they were affiliated with the AMA, and it seemed interesting at the time. Though I stuck with them throughout all four years, and am still a member, occasionally I'm shocked by the kinds of things they promote in their (free) New Physician magazine/journal. I appreciate their campaigning for the 80-hour work week, but some of their other DC rallies seem kinda...I don't know...intense?
     
  8. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    My experience is that by joining and giving in an AMSA credit card application with MBNA, you get a free Netter's Atlas. The cost of the application is $60, and a new Netter's otherwise is $65. So, about 1/2 or more of my class joined AMSA and to this day have little idea what they're about. Certain others active in AMSA that I know just use it as a nice resume pad, and may or may not believe all of what AMSA is saying.

    In reality, they're about as far left-wing as any organization out there. If you're into that sort of thing, by all means join.
     
  9. Olanzapine

    Olanzapine Membership Revoked
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    AMSA might be somewhat on the fanatical side of liberalism, but I really like their magazine (The New Physician). That's another benefit of joining.
     
  10. sambo

    sambo Member
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    Neuronix, you hit the nail on the head. AMSA had a booth set up on registration day at my med school, offering a free Netter for joining.

    I really don't think it's right to pressure students into joining without describing to them in detail what the organization is all about. When naive, wide-eyed freshmen medical students, still on cloud 9 from even being accepted to med school, see "American Medical Student Asscociation", they join just because of the name and the Netter that "you're going to need anyway."

    Meanwhile, AMSA gets tons and tons of new members, which gives them more lobbying power to spread their radical, leftist ideologies. I would not at all be surprised if AMSA's collective views on various issues (socialized medicine, etc.) were actually completely opposite to those of the majority of its members.
     
  11. JM.

    JM. The Yellow Dart
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    The credit card with the physician symbol on it is also sort of cool, and if you are an entrepeneur (who has books reimbursed), buy the netter - get reimbursed. Join AMSA, get the netter, sell the netter, and end up ahead.
     
  12. Dr. Dix

    Dr. Dix Junior Member
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    I actually didn't join for the netter or the credit card. The AMA chapters gave out free stedmans - do people join for that too?

    I don't agree with all the things AMSA lobbies for. However, the way they decide on the issues to lobby for is quite democratic. You see, it's called voting. For AMSA to take an official position on an issue, it has to be voted on and agreed upon by majority of the members.

    AMSA lobbies for a lot of things. Universal health care is just one of them. If you really want to learn about what AMSA stands for, just go to their website. www.amsa.org. Same with the AMA-MSS. go to their website. www.ama-assn.org. There's been way too much opinion and not enough facts on this thread.

    You guys are also not giving the MS1s credit. If the KKK had a registration table and gave out free Netters/Grants/First Aid, would students blindly join also? IF the fact that AMSA gives out free Netters and has a cool credit card really influences med students, then perhaps we really should say no to pharm reps - cuz they actually give out cool things for free.

    I for one actually have my own mind and my own decision making capabilities. It's a bit offensive to assume that thousands of medical students nationwide join organizations for a book or a cool looking credit card. :smuggrin:
     
  13. sambo

    sambo Member
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    .

    I don't know about you or anyone else on this board, but I don't even know who my school's AMSA reps are, and I definitely don't remember receiving any emails about AMSA meetings. I seriously doubt that any decision is made by a true majority vote of all the members. Ideally, each school's reps would have meetings, votes, etc. and make decisions based on ALL the members' inputs. However, since this doesn't happen at my school, I'm sure it doesn't happen at a lot of schools.


    ]

    I'm not saying that I can't think independently, I'm just saying that I didn't research every medical organization before I started med school. At least admit that the free Netter is used by AMSA as an incentive to sign up as many students on the first day of class as possible. AMSA has to know that a lot of the students have NO idea what they're signing up for. I just think it's kind of shady.
     
  14. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    Yes, many do I'm sure.

    The thing is that at my school, AMSA was much much more aggressive about encouraging students to join and showing their FREE... yes FREE... Did I mention FREE (over and over and over again) Netter's to everyone. We also got a free lunch from them. This all happened very early in the school year, before anyone really knew what was going on.

    The AMA sent us a letter. That's about all I remember getting from them. If they were as active in recruiting, I bet they'd get alot of business too. Though, first years are very anxious about anatomy, and I'm sure to the average beginning first year, Netter's would be a higher priority to them than Stedman's.
     
  15. JM.

    JM. The Yellow Dart
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    Holy crap! I thought that they came to their missions and beliefs based on the interpretations of the patterns sharpend bits of animal bones assumed when they were thrown to ground in a ritualistic manner. Wait 'till I tell my classmates this one - Hey, guys! They VOTE!.

    Great. Hurray for independant thinking. :thumbup:
     
  16. carrigallen

    carrigallen 16th centry dutch painter
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    Eric, your school is weird...unlike the other 4 medical schools of Philadelphia (in fact every other medical school in Pennsylvania) you have no active AMA chapter. What's wrong with you guys...! :mad: And more importantly, what's up with these weird new smilies? :luck:
     
  17. doc05

    doc05 2K Member
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    AMSA is way too liberal and concerned with irrelevant things. On important issues, they always take the wrong side.
     
  18. Whoa, how are you getting your books reimbursed? :confused:

    I did. :) I'm glad now, though, because I like receiving JAMA.
     
  19. idq1i

    Physician 15+ Year Member

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    HPSP

    JAMA for 4 years was reason enough for me to join the AMA. No amsa for me. They have strayed too far into socialism for my liking
     
  20. Dr. Dix

    Dr. Dix Junior Member
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    You guys are taking this AMSA / AMA business way too seriously. Too much emotion not enough facts. I thought this forum was to help first years figure out what AMSA stands for and how it is different from the AMA. I'm not trying to get into political debates. I'm also not trying to promote or demote the AMA or AMSA. I really could care less what you guys decide.

    I am honestly hurt by the bad karma people have given me. I was trying to help by talking about facts. I thought the whole purpose of the karma thing was to reward helpfulness and frown upon offensive and purposeless posts. If I offended anyone with any of my above posts - that really was not my intention. I don't know how many times I can keep reiterating that students should just go to the websites to research organizations.

    I'm sorry AMSA is run so badly in so many schools - and people feel like there's some kind of a hidden agenda/conspiracy going on. AMSA at the local level is separate from the national AMSA. National AMSA does operate by voting. Anyone can email any of the people in national leadership of AMSA to complain.

    If you're just going to whine or be inactive about the problems you see with an organization, you're not really doing much are you? Why not share your concerns - go above the local leadership - and do something about it? You may even make it a better organization. OR you may actually find that the organization you pre-judged and belittled actally isn't that evil.

    The OP asked for people with experience in the organization. That's why I replied. I also held positions in the AMA, AMWA, SNMA, and APAMSA in addition to several other organizations. I actually researched many of the organizations' positions. I met with national leaders. I actually read the material on the websites.

    The kind of judgemental thinking exhibited on this forum scares me - especially coming from future healthcare providers. :scared:
     
  21. sophiejane

    sophiejane Exhausted
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    Another intelligent and thought-provoking response by Doc05.

    We'll see how "irrelevant" AMSA's concerns are in a few years when the US health care system (public and private) is collapsing, docs salaries are still steadily decreasing while they work longer hours and pack in even more patients, and pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are richer than ever.

    If you take a moment to look at the AMSA website and truly try to understand the issues facing our healthcare system which they address, you just might expand your horizons a bit and see that the problems we face are way more complex and frightening than any "socialized" medicine scheme. (By the way, you should understand what that is before you go throwing around the term. Universal healthcare does not equal "socialized medicine")
     
  22. idq1i

    Physician 15+ Year Member

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    I suppose I could complain about AMSA's socialist position. However, this position seems to be very much en vogue today. Trying to change this stance would be akin to trying to chop down a huge oak tree with a penknife.

    My advice to incoming MS1's - stay away from AMSA unless you want to be a part of an organization that advocates a socialized medical system.

    In case you are wondering, I had nothing to do with your Karma
     
  23. Dr. Dix

    Dr. Dix Junior Member
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    Nope, idq1i - it wasn't you I was talking about.

    As a MS 1.8, you sure have a lot of experience to talk about various organizations. I mean if AMSA equals socialized medicine to you, you obviously don't know anything AMSA stands for. Please give me a direct quote on the AMSA website or literature that states AMSA stands for socialized medicine. If you can't, please don't discourage MS1s from making an educated decision themselves.

    Try to back up your claims with facts. It works better that way - especially when you get into your clinical rotations - big claims with no back-ups don't impress attendings or patients. :sleep:
     
  24. uclacrewdude

    uclacrewdude the uclacrewdude abides
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    i think its equally possible to effect change without joining amsa, provided youre knowledgeable enough. i remember specifically on the first day of orientation (when i made fun of jmwalker for jacking up the slide projecter, i think) that all the groups told students what they were about/their platform EXCEPT amsa -- just some vague "we're the biggest student org in the nation, blah blah blah blah." every group has a platform, and every group has a responsibility to get that platform across to new members. amsa at our school, therefore, went more via the cult route of accruing members, offering free netters, free lunch, friendly people, and not a damn bit of explanation of what they were about.

    i just said you can effect change without joining amsa. how?
    --> talking to your congressman (pete stark is gonna hear from me next august considering he voted against tort reform)
    --> join other groups. for one, my interest in EM is all about helping people with restricted access to health care, b/c its point of entry. for two, i plugged into BLHO to see if i can be a leader in chicano communities. for three, we have like three explicitly political activism groups on campus, all of which i participate in.
    --> contact other groups outside of medical school. work a campaign. walk for aids.

    the long and the short of what im saying is that you dont need amsa to effect change. i would rather them not give out netters (esp since at that point it wasnt clear how important netters would be -- we hadnt even gotten our syllabi yet!), but i think most students who could think for themselves at least waited a week to sign up for amsa. i sure as hell didnt sign up.
     
  25. Dr. Dix

    Dr. Dix Junior Member
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    uclacrewdude, your personal opinion about AMSA aside, you definitely make some great points and suggestions. It's truly a shame that the AMSA chapter at your school wasn't effective at conveying its platforms. There's only a few national directives/priorities and sounds like you would agree with some of them. They really lost a powerful political lobbyist in you.

    I really liked your post because you were respectful in the way you presented your opinion, you backed it up with the state of AMSA at your school, and then you gave some alternative ways to still be politically involved. I respect you for that. More people like you are needed on this forum.
     
  26. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    Beats me. We must be so liberal that we can't support one.

    I'm still mad at the AMA for its anti-abortion stances earlier last century and its other very conservative views in the past. For those things I'd rather not be associated with them.
     
  27. sophiejane

    sophiejane Exhausted
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    How was it possible that an organization of physicians did not support LEGAL abortion? Had none of them treated the massive internal bleeding and clorox-swallowing patients of the days of old when abortions were illegal?
     
  28. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    The AMA was once a very religious organization. The hippocratic oath both draws upon healing power from god (actually, the Greek gods, but the Catholics took it to mean their god) AND forbids abortion. All physicians used to take the hippocratic oath, so therefore they were doing both god's will and could not perform abortion against the oath. That's the ideology 50+ years ago anyways. The counter argument to your argument is of course that if women didn't get illegal abortions that wouldn't be an issue. One could say, should the government allow things that are immoral just because people are going to try to do it anyways?

    As an aside, I still will not swear to the Hippocratic oath. It forbids abortion, euthinasia, and operating on kidney stones. Of course the modern oath is sanitized for our consumption (e.g. that stuff has been removeed), however it has been a symbol of the church and god's role in medicine for centuries.
     
  29. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
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    Kidney Stones?
     
  30. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    From the classical hippocratic oath (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/doctors/oath_classical.html):
    "I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work."

    Of course, now we have men engaged in this work, however I have seen different translations of the original oath that do not include the second part of that sentence. Nevertheless, how can a physician swear against it, then go and do it? Regardless, the reason this was included in the oath was because early surgeons were all frauds, infection was rampant, and death was high. There was so much demand for those in pain, that people tried surgery (especially stone surgery and dental work) anyways. The hippocratic physicians swore away from that because they were just one of many many competing physician sects in Greek society that were trying to prove that they weren't charlatans.
     
  31. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
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    Ah, OK.

    What about the oath of Ascuelapis (sp?)
     
  32. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    I'm not sure to what you refer. Asclepius was the Greek god of medicine. The Greeks had all sorts of gods for all sorts of things, but the christians always thought the early Romans and Greeks were just a little confused and all the gods they were praying to were just elements of one god. Anyhow, the Greeks also believed that knowledge in a trade could only be handed down from the gods. This helped to promote a system of apprenticeship, where single or small groups of students learned from a single teacher, and they were thought by the layman to conduct rituals to connect with the god of their trade.

    So, the god of medicine was Asclepius and he gave the healers their art. Now, this was good for the Catholic faith to carry the oath forward (along with the other prohibitions), as this one small Greek sect was giving homage to god in their oath. In reality, most Greeks were pro-choice and did euthinasia, so the Hippocratic physicans were hardly a minority and hardly resemble modern medicine (more like naturopaths, there were more "scientific" sects), but that's another piece of the story.

    If anyone is interested further, I'd suggest Nuland's book "Doctors". I have this bad habit of derailing threads, but whatever; the topic has been beaten to death anyways!
     
  33. Dreamin

    Dreamin Senior Member
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    The AMSA chapter at our school is amazing! This year alone we have had a National Primary Care Week, education on the Global HIV/AIDS crisis, debates on the ethics of pharmaceutical companies, Halloween Party for children with diabetes, free immunization clinic, several speakers....etc. It is a very active club and if anyone at another school is interested in everything we did...I would be happy to provide you with more information on how to make your chapter more active.

    The AMA chapter at our school had one meeting this year. It was simply less active...but I think AMA nationally is a good org to be a part of as it will be our physician org forever. I agree that buying books to encourage students to join a club is a bit unethical without explaining what the club is about. Our AMSA chapter explained what they stand for and what they do on the local and national level. I joined both organizations and I am happy that I joined both.

    I went to the national AMSA conference in Kansas City last month. I was truly amazed and inspired by the altruism of the members. Some claim AMSA is liberal...that may be so...but it is not unfounded...and actually I wouldn't call them liberal...I would call AMSA a group of idealistic, inspired, and excited medical students hoping to make a change in the current state of distress that our healthcare system is in.

    This past weekend I went to a regional AMA conference just to check out what the big difference was between the two. Bottom line, the AMA student organization is a lot like AMSA. There was one view that I found that was differnt between the two organizations:

    AMSA: Supports the Government (Single Payer Approach) to providing healthcare for all Americans (In a nutshell...they propose that the government pay for healthcare with tax money). The PNHP (physicians for a National Healthcare Plan) are also backing this proposal...as you can see there is a large group of physicians who support this...and it is not an unfounded idea proposed by "liberal" medical students. I heard canadians argue that this approach has caused them to pay out 30% of their income in taxes to provide the healthcare....currently the majority of the population is spending this amount on yearly health insurance, prescription drugs, and doctor visits.

    AMA:
    Supports the Individual Tax Credit approach to providing healthcare for all. This approach would do away with the tax breaks from the rich...tax the rich more and give that money to those below a certain poverty level.

    I like both AMA and AMSA...I am more of an AMSA person than a supporter of AMA though. The AMSA student organizations nationally are more active and there are more students in AMSA than the AMA.

    AMSA is not just a political organization. Below are some of its committees:
    Community and Public Health
    Health Policy
    Global Health Advocacy
    Humanism in Medicine
    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgenders in Medicine
    Medical Education
    Minority Affairs
    Women in Medicine
    AMSA is all encompassing of medical student and physician issues...I truly believe that it is a philanthropic org. which seeks to promote the best healthcare for physicians, med students, and patients.

    I would encourage all of you to seek out information at both websites www.amsa.org & www.ama-assn.org to make the decision for yourselves instead of criticizing with out a full awareness. I joined both and I am glad that I did. Go to the conferences as a first and second year medical student if you have the opportunity...I feel more informed and inspired in becoming a doctor from having been to both. :luck:
     
  34. Dr. Dix

    Dr. Dix Junior Member
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    Please, if you're gonna give me bad karma - explain yourself like a true intelligent human instead of just calling me names. Tell me how I am a hypocrite. When did I preach one thing and do another? I've been making the same point throughout my posts. If you don't have the guts to argue to my face (OK, so an anonymous face), why do you even bother? What satisfaction could you possibly get from name-calling without back-up?
     
  35. TroutBum

    TroutBum Senior Member
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    All AMSA resolutions are voted on and approved by a majority vote following parliamentary procedure at the National Convention, with each school providing a set number of delegates based on the size of their local chapter.

    If you do not know who your AMSA reps are, it may be because the chapter in your school hasn't been as active as at other places. In that case, perhaps your school didn't vote at National Convention and didn't put forth an opinion on behalf of your school that you were prevented from helping formulate?

    This might sound a lot like what's been said before, but I want to say it because I agree. Beyond the political issues, I really like AMSA because it is completely independent--unlike AMA-MSS, we don't have to listen to a parent organization, and it IS really democratic. AMSA has also been involved in many issues that benefit ALL med students, regardless of political views. It provides a lot of opportunities to get involved, whether that means building political skills, gaining leadership experience, providing community service, or just meeting great people at conferences and conventions!

    The Netter incentive is just that--an incentive. As someone mentioned, AMA-MSS offered a Stedman's Medical Dictionary incentive as well. Both are attractive incentives to attract potential members.
     
  36. uclacrewdude

    uclacrewdude the uclacrewdude abides
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    wow, thanks dr dix. i havent had that much hot air up my ass since that one, extremely memorable, night at the burrito stand.

    yes, i would agree with some of them. but i think AMSA attempts to come off as a political organization with a medical angle, when in reality it has a bigger agenda than that -- note what dreamin said about how wonderful AMSA is. btw dreamin, thanks for defecating on this thread by turning it into a freakin advertisement.

    basically, i have my own politics, and its inevitable that when you undertake so many platforms youre gonna decrease your appeal. it is essentially cultist to recruit members thinking youre up for one thing (lets call it generically improved medicine) but are embroiled in a number of things, like amnesty intl, or whatever.
    1) state what you are and what you want right away. before offering netters guides, amsa should clearly explain what their political goals are.
    2) if i want national change, thats what the democratic party is for, or republican if thats your cup of tea. the democratic platform has more ideas that i agree with than amsa does.
    3) if i want national change, i think of grassroots campaigns. in other words, amsa is so bureaucratic and nebulous an organization that we havent seen any events planned by them in weeks. philly has 6 schools, and im on the amsa mail list, so its not like im just not hearing about these things. if anything, theyre already out of touch with the people (med students, in this case). you have to talk to people individually -- this meant hunting gunners and deriding them for not being human and bringing down healthcare; being nice to nurses, being modest to strangers re:med school, etc to eliminate the idea of the holier-than-thou doctor whom people would love to sue the pants off of; getting individual students involved and actually talking to your govt reps -- those of us on the eastern seaboard should be talking to the state reps at least; and getting together groups of students in the school to do community-oriented things, like Prevention Point or something. big change starts little or starts big. amsa is more of a middleman between me and government in my opinion.

    that last point underscores why i think amsa is a terrible way to get involved, counter to what troutbum says. amsa, being the middleman, dilutes the voice of the individual physician. actually, the reason we have no collective voice as physicians is b/c physicians arent talking in the first place. mobilize individual physicians. it seems like most people get really involved in medical school ... until residency and real life set in. people withdraw into their lives. so amsa is great and fine for medical students, but how come i dont see any suburban physicians at any of the meetings? that would be an accomplishment -- if they could actually bring someone back from the great white flight to involve themselves in the politics.

    so basically, a lot more of your interests can be served by joining other groups instead of amsa.

    p.s. no, i didnt ding you dr dix. you have a crappy argument, but at least it was logical.
     
  37. Dr. Dix

    Dr. Dix Junior Member
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    I wasn't blowing hot air up anything but that's ok.

    Just don't generalize what your local AMSA chapter members do to the national AMSA. Each chapter has it's own elected officials and if they're shady, then that's too bad. Should still research national AMSA and just by-pass those shady bastards.
     

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