December 4, 2020

Resolve in the face of a pandemic: Wayne students triumph at AMA’s virtual Medical Student Section meeting

AMA meeting virtual
Medical students from Wayne State meet with fellow Region 5 members from Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia to prepare for the American Medical Association-Medical Student Section meeting last month.

The setting may have changed from a national stage to a cozy home, but the outcome for Wayne State University School of Medicine students presenting resolutions voted on at the national conference of the American Medical Association Medical Student Section last month mimicked past years’ collective triumphs of having their voices heard as physicians-in-training.

Two resolutions written solely by WSU medical students, and two more written in collaboration with students of other member groups, were recognized, covering topics such as the need for increased medication delivery and curbside pick-up during the COVID-19 pandemic, and making hygiene facilities more readily available to the homeless.

The annual meeting was held virtually Nov. 6-8, with more than 400 students attending. Of those, 24 students from WSU participated. Class of 2023 student and AMA-MSS Regional 5 National Representative Rachel O’Dell was among them.

“I was very proud to see the Wayne resolutions be recognized at this meeting for their relevancy and importance, especially since many of them were agreed on without protracted debate. I think that spoke to the hard work of the authors and how well they had chosen their topics, researched the evidence and wrote their resolved clauses,” said O’Dell, a Wayne student who, along with her classmate Iman William, are national representatives elected to vote on behalf of the school.

The AMA-MSS WSU chapter is an official student organization of the School of Medicine, and is part of the AMA-MSS’s Region 5, which includes student chapters from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Nationally, more than 150 medical schools and specialty organizations were represented, with more than 250 delegates and alternate delegates, as the business of the MSS was addressed during a three-day period.

“What I have enjoyed doing as a national rep is the opportunity to serve my fellow classmate as both a representative of their collective views and opinions, and as a guide through the sometimes-complicated process of writing their resolution,” O’Dell added. “My favorite part is working with individuals to see how their idea to better society, such as improving consent standards for unconscious patients, can be written, researched and honed to become a piece of legislation that is making a tangible difference in patients’ lives on a national scale. Helping people make meaningful change has been my greatest privilege as a national rep.”

The meeting used both Zoom and a system called Lumi, which allowed credentialled national representatives like O’Dell to vote, and the other participants to view announcements and presentations in a split screen, protecting the integrity of the voting process. Resolutions become policies when the AMA votes at its annual House of Delegates meeting, bringing change to health care and medical education nationwide.

“For our school, Iman and I, as national representatives for our chapter, made sure to ask everyone participating in the conference from our school section what their stance was, and placed our votes in accordance with the majority opinion of our members. Before the conference began we had also taken the time to go through all of the resolutions ahead of time to have a general sense of what our chapter felt for the upcoming topics,” she said.

The WSU chapter is known for its leadership in policymaking and advocacy on the national stage.

This AMA meeting was the first to be held virtually, with COVID-19 erasing the usual opportunities to meet and discuss with other like-minded individuals in person.

“Attending a conference like the interim or annual event is so impactful for students and physicians alike because it allows you to engage with peers on important and impactful issues for the health of our nation. It also gives you an opportunity to see how decisions are made on a national scale and how that change is implemented,” O’Dell said. “While this year we may have lost the feeling of awe that comes from walking into a huge room filled with hundreds of individuals working together and debating, attending the conference still gave valuable experience on how professional debate should be conducted. It also lets you see the different leadership positions and how those roles operate together to create an open field for discussion, research topics further for the assembly, or work with the board of trustees to expand the AMA’s philanthropic duties, inspiring members on how they can serve as leaders in the future of the organization. AMA conferences are amazing for the sense of unity they offer, as well as the opportunity to sharpen one’s skills with the large diversity of views and opinions that all come together to shape each resolution and decision.”

At the meeting, May Chammaa was voted in as the Region 5 Delegation Chair. Chammaa will represent all of Region 5 at future AMA House of Delegate meetings. 

The following resolutions were reaffirmed or passed:

Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the AMA and Healthcare Sector written by Michael Moentmann, Michael Franklin and Ashton Lewandoski from the WSU School of Medicine, along with Natasha Sood of the Penn State College of Medicine, Ruth Osborne of the Indiana University School of Medicine, and Phillip Yang of the University of Michigan School of Medicine, was a resolution dedicated to extending AMA’s policy of environmentalism and responsible stewardship. The resolution was combined with another of similar spirit presented at the meeting and adopted as one.

Increased Attention to Hygiene Facilities was a School of Medicine-authored resolution that truly embodied the spirit of Wayne as a leader of advocacy for vulnerable populations by calling attention to the vital sanitary needs of homeless individuals during and beyond this pandemic. It was written by Michael Franklin, Connor Buechler, Katanya Alaga, Michael Moentmann, Lakshmi Guduguntla, Leya Maliekal, Hannah Gloede, Anneliese Petersen, Mara Darian, Danielle Rangel, Josee Smith, Ana Lanier and Anthony Seely. The resolution was determined to be a reaffirmation placing much needed attention and refocus during this trying time.

Support distribution of free hearing protection in relevant public venues was another sole WSU-authored resolution that set forth to safeguard the hearing of all individuals attending concerts and other venues with damaging noise volumes by providing free ear protection to the attendees. It was written by Michael Moentmann, Michael Franklin, Sachin Ketkar, Ashton Lewandowski and Peter Dimitrion. This resolution was adopted into the national AMA Medical Student Section with amendments to make it more effective, and will be brought before the entire AMA at the annual meeting.

“Development and Implementation of Recommendations for Responsible Media Coverage of Drug Overdoses” was written by WSU's Tabitha Moses, May Chammaa, Aashna Sahi, Anum Shahab and Brianna Sohl; and Abigail Wen-Yu Cheng of Western Michigan University. This resolution was referred then adopted with recommended modifications.