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Posted on June 25, 2013 at 4:20 PM

by Jennifer Chevinsky

For the ethics and humanities professors out there, I want to pass on a message – medical students around the nation want to hear more from you!  On June 15th, the American Medical Association’s Medical Student Section (AMA-MSS), the largest and most influential organization of medical students in the country, passed a resolution calling for reformation of medical education that includes increasing the medical ethics and humanities curricula. The AMA-MSS includes student leaders from across the nation, representing all allopathic and osteopathic medical schools within the United States.  At the annual AMA-MSS conference in Chicago, delegates from these universities voted in support of ‘Resolution 6,’ which resolved clauses read as follows,

 “RESOLVED, That our AMA and AMA-MSS recognize the importance of addressing the disparity between current outcomes and the ideal status of undergraduate medical education in bioethics and humanities; and be it further

RESOLVED, That our AMA, in partnership with appropriate AMA-MSS bodies, leverage its internal resources and its relationships with professional society stakeholders to create suggested guidelines for undergraduate medical education of bioethics and humanities guided by LCME requirements and the ASBH Task Force; and be it further

RESOLVED That our AMA advocate for the national adoption of a set of suggested guidelines for undergraduate medical education in bioethics and humanities by allopathic and osteopathic medical schools.”

This resolution was written and proposed by the members of the national Standing Committee on Bioethics and Humanities, comprised of students from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine, USF Morsani College of Medicine SELECT, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Virginia Commonwealth University, and New York University School of Medicine.

When testifying about the resolution, students from the large room of school delegates explained that they wished their schools’ curricula included a more substantive medical ethics and humanities education.  Medical ethics is often in a tug-of-war with the sciences, battling for time on the medical school schedule.  However, medical students urged that anatomy, physiology, and pathology need to be supported with a strong medical ethics curriculum in order to promote ethical practice for the future members of healthcare teams.

The resolution will be passing through to the AMA House of Delegates at the next AMA conference, calling for support and implementation from the physician section.  Instead of waiting until then, I encourage medical students to voice their concerns to their universities and for medical ethics and humanities professors to reach out to their medical students for support.  Together, students and faculty can change the current state of medical ethics and humanities education in US medical schools.

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