American Medical Student Association

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American Medical Student Association
AMSA logo.jpg
Motto It takes more than medical school to make a physician
Formation 1950
Type Student organization, Professional organization
Headquarters Sterling, Virginia
35 000 medical and pre-medical students, residents, and physicians
Official language
Kelly Thibert DO, MPH
Affiliations International Federation of Medical Students' Associations

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), founded in 1950 and based in Washington, D.C., is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. AMSA is a student-governed, national organization. They have a membership of 68,000 medical students, premedical students, interns, medical residents and practicing physicians from across the country.

AMSA's action committees and interest groups help expose medical students to information on subjects not generally covered in traditional curricula, and is the only major national medical organization in the US that accepts no sponsorship or funding from any pharmaceutical company.[1]

Strategic priorities[edit]

In November 2007, AMSA leaders decided upon four strategic priorities:[2]

  • Quality, Affordable Health Care for All through advocacy for health care reform and a single-payer universal health care system
  • Global Health Equity through education about our responsibility for rational and proportional assistance for all people
  • Enriching Medicine Through Diversity by improving recruitment and retention into medicine of under-reperesented minorities, while increasing the diversity of its own leadership
  • Professional Integrity, Development and Student Well-Being that creates a humane and cooperative learning environment, one that will develop physicians worthy of the public trust, through work hour reform, revitalization of professionalism in the medical field, and through AMSA's PharmFree campaign


The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) was founded in 1950, as the Student American Medical Association (SAMA), under the auspices of the American Medical Association (AMA). The main purpose of the organization was to provide medical students a chance to participate in organized medicine.

The late 1960s saw dramatic changes in the organization's objectives and philosophy. In 1967, AMSA established its independence from the AMA,[3] became student-governed, and began to raise its own voice on a variety of socio-medical issues, including civil rights, abortion rights, universal health care and Vietnam.[4]

In a collaboration with medical educators that began in 1968, AMSA proposed numerous reforms and model curricula, to transform medical education in order to make the profession more responsive to community and societal needs. AMSA was also instrumental in the introduction of the original Family Practice Act of 1970, and supported legislation establishing the National Health Service Corps.

AMSA has led a campaign to reform medical resident work hours, long a controversial issue in the field. In 2001 AMSA joined the Committee of Interns & Residents and Public Citizen in filing a petition with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration asking for federal oversight of resident work hours as a matter of workplace safety. AMSA authored the Patient and Physician Safety and Protection Act of 2005, introduced by Senator Jon Corzine (S. 1297) and Representative John Conyers (H.R.1228). AMSA and the Committee of Interns & Residents also jointly maintain a website advocating for work hours reform called Hours Watch that presents the latest scientific research on the topic.

In addition to sponsoring events highlighting prospects for universal health care, medical technology and HIV/AIDS, AMSA also has organized the PharmFree Campaign to educate and train its members to interact professionally and ethically with the pharmaceutical industry.

In September, 2005, AMSA led the National Conference on the Financing of Undergraduate Medical Education, an event that brought together legislators, medical organizations, medical students and others to address skyrocketing medical debt.

Annual convention[edit]


Each spring, AMSA's Annual Convention brings together nearly 1,500 physicians-in-training and leaders in medical education and health policy.

The location of the convention alternates from year to year between the DC metro area and other locations. At the Convention, are renowned Keynote Speakers and many healthcare related exhibitors.

Also, at convention the House Of Delegates (HOD) meets. The HOD is where AMSA's members take ownership of the Association. As AMSA's official policy-making body, the HOD is a delegation of AMSA members from each local medical chapter who meet once a year at the Annual Convention to vote on AMSA's policies and to elect our national officers. The HOD is open to all members of AMSA to speak and vote. The members debate the issues, make the amendments and cast the votes that shape AMSA's policies. Any member of AMSA has the ability to write and submit resolutions to the HOD.

Action committees[edit]

AMSA has ten Action Committees (AC's).[5] While the Board of Trustees governs the organization, the Action Committees produce ideas and projects. They promote these areas of interest and associated projects to AMSA members on national, regional and local levels and are integral in helping AMSA maintain its view of medicine.

  • Education Action Committee (MedEd)
  • Community and Environmental Health Action Committee (CEH)
  • Humanistic Medicine Action Committee (HuMed)
  • Global Action Committee
  • Gender & Sexuality Action Committee
  • Race, Ethnicity & Culture in Health Action Committee (REACH)
  • Policy Action Committee
  • Culture of Medicine Action Committee(COM)
  • Grassroots Leadership Action Committee
  • Student Life Action Committee
  • Pre-Medical Action Committee (est. 2012)

IFMSA partnership[edit]

In 2008, IFMSA-USA merged with AMSA.[4] IFMSA-USA used to be the US representative to the International Federation of Medical Students' Associations (IFMSA). Since the merger, AMSA now is able to offer international exchanges for research[6] and clinical[7] electives to nearly 70 countries through SCORE and SCOPE respectively. The exchanges are available to medical student members. Research exchanges are also available to select pre-med members. AMSA also now sends a delegation of students to the semi-annual IFMSA General Assemblies (GA) of IFMSA.


Global Pulse Journal[edit]

GlobalPulseJournal Logo.jpg

The AMSA publishes the Global Pulse Journal as an online journal. The journal is written by medical students and targets an audience of other medical students.



The PharmFree project, established by the AMSA in 2002, was created from the belief that the medical profession needs more detachment from pharmaceutical firms.[8] Spending on marketing to physicians, which includes gifts to med students, rose from $12.1 billion in 1999 to $22 billion in 2003. Based on the premise that taking gifts from pharmaceutical companies creates a conflict of interest for doctors, AMSA now urges both students and practising physicians to 'just say no' to all personal gifts from Pharmaceutical companies.

The PharmFree campaign has included a march on Pfizer offices in New York City, where members assembled at the firm's front doors and dumped thousands of pens marked with the company's logo on the doorstep. Additionally, under the leadership of then-President Leana Wen, AMSA started the Counterdetailing Campaign in 2005 to encourage physicians-in-training to educate practicing physicians about alternative sources of information regarding pharmaceuticals. As "detailing" is the concept of drug representatives selling biased information to physicians, AMSA came up with the concept of "counterdetailing" as an opposing concept, for students to bring physicians evidence-based sources of information. In May 2007, AMSA released the PharmFree Scorecard,[9] the first to evaluate medical schools according to their pharmaceutical interaction policies. Of all the medical schools in the United States, five received a grade of “A,” which translates into comprehensive school policy that restricts pharmaceutical representatives to both the medical school campus and its academic medical centers. Forty schools received an “F” for their lack of policies or encouraging physicians-in-training to obtain information from drug representatives.

Allies and supporters of this campaign include No Free Lunch,[10] AARP,[11] Consumers Union,[12] the Medical Letter,[13] and the National Physicians Alliance.[14]

AMSA Academy[edit]


AMSA Academy[15] is a training ground for physician leaders, established by and for students. The Academy strives to empower medical students to effect change in medicine. Combining didactic with experiential learning, AMSA Academy courses take medical students through the core competencies of leadership and project implementation, while building on key principles of important topics in medicine.

Each program fosters the value of health care must be patient-centered, effective, efficient, safe, equitable, and timely, as identified by the Institute of Medicine. AMSA identifies their mission as training physician leaders in order to transform the face of medicine.

AMSA Foundation[edit]

The Foundation was established by AMSA in 1964 as a means to address issues in medical education and to provide low cost small emergency loans to medical students in need. In 1974, the Board of Trustees of the Association and the Board of Directors of the Foundation decided to broaden its role. Since then, the Foundation has functioned as the programming arm of AMSA.

During its history, the AMSA Foundation has developed a national reputation for designing and conducting quality and innovative programming. It has managed over $75,000,000 of grant and contract funds during this period. Much of the organization's early work was performed under contract with the U.S. Public Health Service. From 1971 through 1980, the AMSA Foundation was the primary recruiter of physicians for the National Health Service Corps, Bureau of Medical Services and the Indian Health Service.

The AMSA Foundation has also worked extensively with private foundations and corporations on programs designed to augment physician development and innovations in medical education. The organization was one of the original innovators of interdisciplinary health team training for medical and health professions students-an initiative that has continued to this day. AMSA has also launched programs in primary care, complementary and alternative medicine, international health, health policy, HIV/AIDS education, substance abuse prevention, breast cancer prevention, health services management and end of life care for medical and other health professions students.[16]


AMSA was always led by students. The National President is elected by members to serve a one-year term during which he/she is based in AMSA's Reston offices. The President takes a year's leave from medical school in order to serve AMSA and its mission.

AMSA also has staff that work in its Reston offices, including an executive director. In 2006, AMSA's long-time executive director, Paul R. Wright, retired.

Past AMSA presidents have gone on to many leadership positions in the government and in academia.


The 2009 AMSA logo, combining the newer shield featuring the Rod of Asclepius and "AMSA" in text reminiscent of the older logo
The older AMSA logo, no longer used, in effect from 1950-2009

To celebrate AMSA's 60th anniversary, a new logo was designed to commemorate the occasion. Importantly, the Rod of Asclepius has been incorporated into a shield, beside which "AMSA" is spelled out (using a custom font which differs from the original logo). The letters AMSA rest upon the fully spelled out name of the organization, using the font "Today."

The crest contains four colours; from top right clockwise, they are and represent:

  • Blue - (although it is not explicitly explained why the blue is in the shield, the colour blue in general represents AMSA's history and tradition, since its logo has always been blue)
  • Purple - Purple illustrates the advocacy efforts on behalf of LGBT medical students and those discriminated against based on gender and sexuality
  • Red - Red was incorporated into the new logo to reflect the organization’s dedication to fighting the global AIDS pandemic
  • Green - Green exemplifies AMSA’s commitment to a better environment and environmental health and the organization’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint[17]

There is also a blazon as to the usage of the logo, including size, dimensions and colours. These can be found at AMSA's website.[18]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]