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Q&A: Medical student passes national AMA policy changes

Hawaii view

Meet Arvind

My name is Arvind Haran and I’m a third-year medical student at IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis. I am a one of six Student Delegates who represent medical students in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and West Virginia in the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates. My involvement with the AMA in the past year has been inspiring and professionally motivating. I joined the AMA because I wanted to try and make a difference in medicine and public health at a larger scale. I’m thankful to have gotten to travel to Hawaii and Chicago for annual conferences and even pass two policy changes!

What is the AMA?

The AMA is the largest organization of physicians in the United States, and their mission is to “promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health” by means of advocacy, influencing federal and state legislation, and researching key issues in public health.

Arvind presenting policy changes at the AMA conference

Arvind presenting policy changes at the AMA conference

Any member of the AMA can write a policy proposal that addresses a problem in health care. The proposal is debated and voted on during each of the biannual AMA meetings to determine if it will become an official AMA policy. Therefore, even medical students can affect policy and enact change at a very large scale! I was lucky enough to be one of those students.

How did you pass your policy proposals?

Arvind sitting on a ledge in Hawaii during free time on his AMA conference trip

Arvind sitting on a ledge in Hawaii during free time on his AMA conference trip

In the November 2017 AMA conference in Hawaii, I wrote and introduced two policy proposals that passed our Student Section and were forwarded to the main AMA House of Delegates for the Chicago meeting in June 2018. These proposals were inspired by my summer research. My primary resolution was about money-bail as a public health issue, as it unnecessarily detains mostly poor, non-violent individuals and subjects them to the harms of incarceration. The other was about limiting the use of solitary confinement, in which I took a secondary author role. At the Chicago conference, both policy proposals were passed without much debate. So, I’m really happy to say that my efforts and initiative have literally changed Official AMA policy! I’m proud of this achievement and am very excited because actions like this prove the AMA’s commitment to issues in health equity.

What are some other accomplishments you’re proud of with the AMA?

  • Arvind presenting research that influenced his AMA policy proposal

    Arvind presenting research that influenced his AMA policy proposal

    I presented a poster presentation from my research in the summer of 2017. The research was on determining a utility score for incarceration, which could later be used to determine the quality adjusted life years (QALYs) lost due to incarceration.

  • I met the Surgeon General, which was pretty cool. It was very inspiring because he was an IU medical student not too long ago. He credits much of his present-day success to his involvement in the AMA in medical school.
  • I assumed my role as Student Delegate in the AMA, which meant I was an official voting member. It was quite an honor and was so exciting to be in an atmosphere where a variety of health policy and public health topics were discussed. I even gave testimony in the microphone for about a minute on a specific amendment to a certain policy being debated (incentivizing the use of social determinants of health screening tools in EMRs).
  • Arvind with the Surgeon General and Indiana AMA Delegate physicians

    Arvind with the Surgeon General and Indiana AMA Delegate physicians

    I enjoyed opportunities to network with many students, residents, and doctors from around the country. This strengthened my relationships with the doctors involved in the Indiana State Medical Association. Also, I believe I represented my school and state well when meeting doctors from other parts of the country. Lots of free dinners and social hours and opportunities to make connections, which was actually so fun!

What’s next?

Coming out of the conference high and being involved in organized medicine has gotten me very optimistic for the future. It reinvigorated my passion for medicine. I can’t wait to rock the rest of my clerkships and find which specialty fits best for me!

Tell us a little more about you!

I was born in Munster, IN, grew up in Naperville IL. I went to college at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. My hobbies include basketball, running, dancing (especially during occasional trips to Tiki Bobs), and reading non-fiction and current events.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

IU School of Medicine

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