The American Medical Association (AMA) announced policies adopted by physician and medical student leaders from all corners of medicine on the final day of the Special Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates. Policies adopted help the AMA drive the future of medicine, remove obstacles that interfere with patient care, and improve the health of the nation.
The AMA's House of Delegates is the policy-making body at the center of American medicine, bringing together an inclusive group of physicians, medical students and residents representing every state and medical field. Delegates work in a democratic process to create a national physician consensus on emerging issues in public health, science, ethics, business and government to continually provide safer, higher quality and more efficient care for patients and communities.
The policies adopted by the House of Delegates during the meeting include:
Employee Benefits for Medical Trainees
As the cost of medical education increases, the AMA is working to ensure that it does not come from the pocket of trainees. Under the new policy adopted today, the AMA will partner with stakeholders to encourage training programs to ensure physicians-in-training receive employee benefits, including on-call meal allowances, transportation support, relocation stipends, and childcare services.
In addition, the AMA will work with stakeholders to advocate for additional ways to defray costs related to residency and fellowship training, including essential amenities and/or high-cost, specialty-specific equipment required to perform clinical duties.
"Between financial restraints and 80-hour work weeks, trainees often struggle with having the time and budget for necessities. When residency and fellowship programs provide benefits to assist with these needs, it can significantly improve trainee well-being," said AMA Board Member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H.
Protecting Residents and Fellows Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Burdens
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, residents and fellows across the nation have been called upon to provide care and serve on the frontlines of the health care workforce, often assuming roles that are not typical to their specialty training. Recognizing the drastic educational, professional, and financial consequences created by this situation, the AMA today adopted policy strengthening its call for measures to safeguard residents and fellows as they complete their medical training on the heels of a global health emergency.
Specifically, the policy asks that the AMA work with stakeholders to advocate for equitable compensation and benefits for duties that may be outside the scope of the trainee's residency or fellowship training. Recognizing educational barriers endured during the pandemic, the policy also requests the AMA's support in calling for accrediting bodies and specialty boards to consider reducing case number and clinic time requirements and instead leveraging alternative holistic measures to determine competency.
"As residents and fellows have swiftly answered the call to serve as essential workforce members, it is crucial that we continue to assist them in navigating the many challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has produced. With the passage of this policy, the AMA commits to standing with stakeholders across medical education to continue supporting and protecting physicians-in-training as they help drive the future of medicine," said AMA Board of Trustee member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H.
In April 2020, the AMA issued guidance pointing to a number of considerations for ensuring the physical safety, education preservation, and financial and emotional well-being of residents and fellows during this unprecedented time.