AMSA Conference in Philly

I’m heading to the regional AMSA conference this weekend in Philadelphia and was wondering if any other OPMers were going to be there.
If you haven’t heard about it, they have a nice schedule of speakers planned on issues and topics pertaining to pre-meds as well as med students. For pre-meds, they are also doing a city-wide tour of the med schools in Philly on Sunday.

How was the conference? Who were the speakers? I should join AMSA or other student organizations. I’m waiting until next year when I’m in school full time and more involved with college life again. I’m looking forward to it.

The conference was great. If you can hang tight until Thanksgiving, I’ll post a bunch of info about the conference. Right now I’m way behind (partly from skipping two days :slight_smile: and have a big exam next Wednesday.

Sorry about taking so long to post info about the Northeast Regional AMSA conference that I attended back in November. I became the poster child for why you shouldn’t go to medical school close to your family. Anyway, things have settled down and I can sit down to put down some thoughts.
I have to say that I went to the AMSA conference because of something that was said at the OPM conference last year. Mary Boise Byrne said something to the effect that she had gone to every conference that she could and networked. So off I went to meet other med students.
The conference opened Friday morning with one of the three keynote speakers. Paul Jung, MD gave a great talk on the conference theme “You say you want a revolution.” He took us on a journey of activism throughout medicine. One of his points that I remember well is that FDR (this country’s most popular president) had tried to pass universal health care in conjunction with social security. However, universal health care became a sticking point and he had to pull it in order to get social security passed. He then brought us to Bill Clinton, another very popular president, who also could not get universal health care passed. He said all of this to let us know that it would take a lot of work from the grassroots level to get universal health care (one of AMSA hallmark issues) passed.
Then there were a series of small groups you could choose from. Ones that I attended were:
- “Medical Malpractice 101”  this included a debate between Robert McNammara (Temple University’s Director of Emergency Medicine), Thomas Kline (one of the nation’s top medical malpractice attorneys), and Larry Light (Vice President of Pennsylvania Medical Society). It opened my eyes to issue faced by all sides involved in tort reform.
- “Confessions of a Multi-Billion Dollar Drug Rep”  this talk was by Gene Carbona, a prior drug rep who marketed Prilosec for Merck when it first came out. He talked about the tactics used by drug reps to persuade physicians to prescribe their drugs. One thing I didn’t know was that drug reps know specifically all of the prescriptions you have written, not just a general idea. Now, Mr. Carbona works for The Medical Letter, a non-profit organization that provides unbiased drug information to physicians.
- “The Golden Rule and the Death of American Medicine”  Joel Posner, MD, Professor of Medicine, Drexel University School of Medicine talked about the new golden rule of medicine— “The one with the gold makes the rules.”
- “The Hot Guide to Safer Sex”  Yvonne Fulbright, PhD, sexologist did a fun filled tour of sexual acts and accessories.
- “Everybody In, Nobody Out: The Physicians’ Proposal for National Health Insurance”  Adam Gliden Tsai, MD, Philadelphia Ad Hoc Committee on Universal Health Care, Philadelphia Physicians for a National Health Program spoke about the details of designing and implementing a program to insure the 43 million Americans who lack health insurance. I learned a lot about how it’s easy to say something’s a good idea, but then the real work comes in working out the details.
- “Around the World in 50 Minutes: How to find and Select an International Medical Elective”  Steve Huffman, MD, has spent his career traversing the globe providing health care in countless countries. I actually attended this talk to get information to take back to our International Health Interest Group. I discovered that if there is someplace you want to go, you can make it happen.
- “Meditation for Life: More than Just Stress Management”  Michael Baime, MD, Program for Stress Management, University of Pennsylvania, spoke about the role of alternative and complimentary medicine with our patients and for ourselves. Since time was limited, we did a few techniques to whet our appetite for mediation.
Ralph Nader was also one of the keynote speakers. His talk was okay. I guess I expected him to be more inspiring.
Another keynote speaker was Ken Ginsburg, MD who spoke on “Surviving Medical School with Your Soul Intact.” The thing he said that has stuck with me since then is that the really important topics in medical school will be presented multiple times, in various contexts. Now that I think about it, it is so true. So now I feel like a lot of pressure is off of me to memorize every detail the first time I see it because I know that I will see it again.
For the pre-meds there were talks on the admissions process and a tour of the Philadelphia medical schools. For the medical students there was a huge residency fair. Even though I’m Air Force HPSP, I still am required to apply for the civilian match in addition to the military match (more residents in the Air Force than residency slots). By chance, I met a director of an internal medicine program (one of the specialties I’m interested in) who himself was Air Force and we exchanged information so he can link me up with the right people in the Air Force programs.
In addition to the talks, we marched from our hotel to the liberty bell to promote awareness of the need for global HIV medications. It continued the activism theme of the conference. It was fun for me because I had never been on the inside of a rally. While AMSA’s views tend toward the left (while the AMA tends toward the right) and I’m some where in the middle, it was great to
I had a great time and urge everyone to attend the national conference in Kansas City this March.
I hope you may have found some of this interesting. If there’s something I didn’t answer, let me know and I’ll give it my best shot.

I forgot to add that when I registered on Friday morning I was standing in the student line. The girl in charge of registering asked me if I was an attending. I’ve never thought of myself as looking much older than my classmates (I’m 33), but it did make me smile inside in this werid way.
Call me crazy…Tara

Dear Tara,
I’m glad you went to AMSA…it’s great to see a room full of people all concerned with the same things that concern you.
(A totally unbiased plug for AMSA, AMA and OldPreMeds annual conventions…our next one is in Denver, June 10-13th. Stay tuned!)
For everyone premed here: yes, I did say at our convention last year in DC “I went to every conference I could” during my post-bacc. Actually, I went to every medical/premedical/bioscience/psychological conference, grand rounds, CME, seminar , workshop (and the like) that I could fit into my schedule and still keep my grades up.
(And also “graduated” from Hershey’s Mini-Medical School two years in a row. Now THAT was fun! When I got to interview, I said to my interviewers “I graduated mini-med school, so it’s time for the real thing!” It got a good laugh and here I am). Google search for mini-med school and you’ll get some matches. Plus you can call your area hospitals to find out if they have one…
Get comfortable in talking to anyone at these events and asking questions…it’s possible to find out a lot from people and really enjoy it.
You can of course register for any of the AMSA, AMA, and OldPreMed annual conventions. No problem there: register and pay (which might be less than you think) and get there. Sharing rooms and carpooling can greatly reduce your cost of attending these events.
For the grand rounds, etc., don’t be shy! ASK. Learn how to do ‘good phone’. That is, learn to use the phone (and Internet) to find out and get into the things that you want to do! Starting with “Hello…I’m interested in your grand rounds schedule. I’m a non-traditonal student at ___, and this field interests me.” usually gets a conversation rolling on the phone. I’ve never had anyone say “no, you can’t”. If you sound interested and professional, you can get to some terrific medical seminars (free) and talk with whoever’s there. They will be curious (i.e. “who’s that”?) about you. Tell them that you’re applying to med school. This is also one way to get shadowing experience. They’ll be interested in what you’re doing, you’re already standing out from all the other premeds that they haven’t met, and your interested in the specialty or topic of “their event”. Good combo!
Tara, thanks for giving us your post about this conference. I had met Dr. Paul Jung in DC. He gave a great, “history of medicine in 50 minutes” talk and a presentation “on how NOT to get into med school”. The latter was about all the mistakes he’d seen applicants make and he did both talks very well I thought.
Take care…keep us posted about boards and clinicals!

For whatever this may be worth, my advice (not on getting into medical school because I have yet to do that) but for most things is to tell everyone you meet what you are doing. When I first moved to DC I was really shy about talking about my job search, some strange pride thing. It took me FOREVER to find a job. The next time I told everyone I met what I was looking for and sure enough, one of the more random contacts I made led me to a job (as a publicist for RCA Victor).
These days, I tell people what I am doing and they either buy me dinner (not sure why, but I am not complaining) or they have advice to offer. This has also led to various shadowing opportunities. My current deal is I follow an orthopod once a week. It’s great.

Tara, thanks for posting about the conference! I have only been to 1 conference so far and that was last year’s OPM conference in D.C. I am tentatively planning to go to Denver and hopefully every OPM conference in the future, including when I’m finally a doctor (knock on wood) so I can “give back” to the community and have OPMers shadow me.
I’m so bad with the networking thing…I find it easy to post incessantly but hard to talk about my desire to go to med school in person. And I’m at a total loss for “cocktail party small talk” since topics of conversation begin with sports or politics, two subjects I am not interested in. I have to do better with meeting people. I find OPM a great place to start.
P.S. Can you join AMSA or AMA online or do you have to have such a club on campus?

You can join AMSA on their website - In fact their main office is right around the corner from you over in Reston, VA. Just go to the members area on the left column. I have been getting their magazine (The New Physician) for a while and expect to be joining the org. In fact the magazine is how I found out about OPM - the article last year on OldManDave - unfortunately the article ran after the OPM conference in D.C. - so I’m planning a roadtrip to Denver. Well, hope this info is helpful.
Hope we both get dug out before the next storm hits.
Take care,

I love reading the New Physician magazine. That’s one of the reasons I joined.

Hi Guys,
The AMSA national convention is in Kansas City this year and is March 17-21.
The membership price is $25./yr or $65. for one’s pre-med career.
Membership provides a $100. discount on the Princeton Review MCAT prep course.
I would agree with Amy that the New Physician is a great mag that comes with membership–about 10 times/yr.
AMSA has a pre-med listserv, but many of the pre-meds are about 21 or so. I would think it augments OPM but certainly doesn’t replace us…
Take care,

I agree that AMSA does not replace OPM for me. AMSA is a way for me to learn more about the career of medicine and the very “big picture” issues that are out there. OPM provides support and a way to handle this new career and all of its everyday challenges, especially with all of the unique issues that come when you are not doing this the normal route.