Medical education is constantly evolving as new technology and innovative thinkers uncover better ways to train future physicians. To help facilitate this innovation, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) brings together stakeholders from top schools around the country to share best practices for improving the medical school experience.
The student branch of the AAMC — the Organization of Student Representatives (OSR) — comprises representatives from each member school, including 138 LCME accredited U.S. medical schools and 17 Canadian schools. OSR reps travel to AAMC meetings, communicate school concerns and bring back ideas.
Amelia Goodfellow, a fourth-year student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has been an OSR rep since her first year and has held both regional and national leadership positions.
"The great thing about the Organization of Student Representatives is that we're gathering information from around the country," Goodfellow explains. "We're learning innovative approaches and seeing what's a good fit for our program. We also share the amazing things happening at UCLA. It's an opportunity to make an already incredible medical school even better, while networking with amazing and inspiring people."
About AAMC meetings
AAMC holds national meetings each fall and regional conferences earlier in the year. OSR reps attend these meetings along with deans, student affairs leaders, financial aid staff and other "cohorts" of stakeholders.
The national meetings feature plenary sessions with keynote speakers chosen to reflect that year's conference theme. For instance, the 2015 meeting in Baltimore focused on race and diversity in medicine, while the 2016 meeting in Seattle focused on resilience and wellness for medical students.
There are also breakout sessions for each cohort. For example, student affairs representatives attend sessions on counseling students, while OSR reps attend sessions focused on the student experience.
OSR reps also meet with other students from their region, says Goodfellow. "We share ideas and brainstorm about specific challenges. We also create physical resources. For example, I helped create an ultrasound interest group at UCLA where students learn how to do scans in various scenarios. In one regional OSR business meeting, we had a round table about technology, and we talked about what we've done at UCLA. Some people liked the idea and asked us to make a toolkit for other schools."
Finally, there's a poster session where medical students present research or best practices from their schools. "It's a forum for students to share their work at a professional conference, which is always exciting."
Upon returning from AAMC meetings, OSR reps meet with deans, faculty and student affairs representatives to discuss what they learned and how to put ideas into practice.
For example, after a recent OSR leadership forum on wellness and physician burnout, OSR reps met with school leaders to share strategies and resources for improving student resiliency.
OSR reps also helped start a Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) chapter at UCLA. "This honors society recognizes students and doctors for their humanistic qualities. Another OSR rep and I learned how other schools implemented the GHHS and then helped bring it to David Geffen. We've now inducted our second group of honorees. This is a nationally recognized honor and something students can put on residency applications."
The AAMC allows member institutions to select up to four OSR reps. At UCLA, interested medical students complete essay-based questionnaires, which are reviewed by standing OSR reps. Top candidates go on interviews with deans and student affairs officers, who select new reps.
"We have a first-year, second-year, third-year and fourth-year rep," says Goodfellow. "This helps ensure each class has a representative to advocate for them."
By Taylor Mallory Holland