Diary of… a student who attended a medical convention

Saamia Shaikh is a senior biology major. She is originally from Pakistan, but grew up in Orlando. She is the president of the Pre-Medical Society, as well as the co-president of the Pakistani Student Association. She is also a member of President’s 64 and on the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences’s Academic Integrity Committee. When Saamia is not studying, she is reading, doing research, volunteering in her community and spending time with friends and family. 

Last month, Melanie Reddy, Catalina Breton, Janna Orensky, Daniel Vesco, Osse Eugene, and Maksadur Rahman Chowdhury and I, members of the Pre-Medical American Medical Students Association (ASMA) Society, had the honor of attending the annual ASMA Convention in Houston, Texas.

As a pre-med student I’ve always heard of the AMSA conventions and all the wonderful opportunities that can arise as a result of attending these conferences. By going to the convention, I was able to network with other pre-medical and medical students from around the nation. It was very comforting to talk to other pre-meds about their courses, research, and future endeavors.

I also had the opportunity to meet with other pre-med AMSA chapter presidents and discuss the overall experience of holding such a position as I do and to learn what future events they have planned.

In addition to meeting students, AMSA attendees had the opportunity to meet physicians and political figures. I had the honor of attending Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius’s lecture, which covered topics such as the Affordable Care Act.

It was really rewarding to hear from a political figure that pre-med and med students’ efforts are being recognized. It was also really nice to hear someone tell us that we are going into the best possible profession at the best time, despite all the changes that are currently happening in the healthcare system.

Attending this conference made me realize that being a physician is not just about being a healer — it is so much more than that. Being a physician is having the ability to recognize when to take the call for action and when to know to advocate for your patients.

At one of the lectures, keynote speaker Dr. Arthur Chen displayed a picture of an infant’s hand that had just been bitten by a rat. He explained the irony of the situation and said that the infant could be taken to any medical institution and could receive world-class care for his or her injury. However, the infant would be taken right back to the poor conditions where he or she came from, just to relive the same agony again.

From this lesson, I learned that it is imperative for future physicians to take such circumstances into account. Not only must we learn to be exceptional physicians mastering the ins and outs of science and scientific techniques, but we must also assume the other underemphasized roles of physicians in terms of health policy by becoming educators and advocators. As Dr. Arthur Chen said, “If you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention.”

As an NSU student, attending the AMSA conference impacted my overall experience as an undergraduate student and allowed me to learn things that I would not have learned in a classroom setting.

The most important thing I learned from attending the convention in Houston was the significance of advocating and taking a stand for what you believe in. I learned that we are the generation of change and if something needs to happen, we, ourselves, are the ones who must take a stand and make a change through education and advocacy.

I would like to thank the Undergraduate Student Government Association and the Division of Student Affairs for providing funds and making this trip possible.

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