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Are you new to the AMA-MSS and wondering what it is we actually do? Or maybe you’ve been to a national meeting or two in the past, but aren’t too sure about how to get more involved in the policy-making process? Either way, you’ll learn quickly that making policy is at the core of what we do and that participating in the process is a great way to educate yourself about important issues in medicine.

At first, you may wonder what exactly it is we mean by “policy.” Simply put, policy is what directs the actions of our MSS organization. At each national meeting, we consider a variety of resolutions, which are documents written by any member(s) of the MSS for consideration by the assembly. The process is quite similar to that used by legislative bodies. The resolution itself contains “whereas” clauses that outline the reasons for a particular action, followed by one or more “resolved” clauses which outline the actions or positions the author would like the organization to take. Once a resolution is introduced, the assembly may vote to amend the “resolved” clauses to more closely align with the wishes of the assembly. If the assembly votes to adopt the resolution, the “resolved” clauses become part of our internal policies, but the “whereas” clauses are disregarded. We also consider reports written by our Governing Council (GC) and the MSS Standing Committees, which include background information and a discussion of the topic at hand, followed by recommendations, which are voted on in the same manner as resolutions.

Resolutions may be written on almost any topic that pertains to medical students specifically or to medicine more broadly. Our MSS tends to be very active on public health, medical education, and legislative issues. One word of caution—when writing a resolution, you must keep in mind what the MSS is able to accomplish. For example, we are very fortunate in that the AMA has a strong voice in legislative advocacy. We also have a number of appointed student seats on the boards of highly influential organizations in medical education including the NBME, the NRMP, and the LCME. However, the MSS does not regulate medical education and so resolutions that outline particular curriculum requirements would be outside the purview of our organization. If you’re not sure what actions the MSS can take on a particular issue, it is best to speak with a more experienced member of the Region VII delegation for guidance.

If you have an idea for a resolution, now is the time to get started drafting it! All draft resolutions for Interim 2012 will be due on Sept. 15. Following that time, there will be an open feedback period where members of the MSS delegation and our House Coordinating Committee (HCC) will comment and advise you on how to improve your resolution. The deadline for submission of final drafts is Sept. 29. Please reach out to a Regional Delegate or Alternate Delegate with any questions about MSS policy-making or resolution writing!

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