Page 19 - Volume 70 Number 1
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A Student’s Perspective... More on the Physicians in
Policy Speaker Series
by Melinda Song
“If medicine is to fulfill her great task, then she Dmust enter the political and social life.”
r. Rudolf Virchow penned this sentiment after witnessing the 1847-1848 typhus epidemic of present-day Poland. Today, medical students at
the University of Michigan still heed his words. This year, Washtenaw County Medical Society has generously renewed its support of a “Physicians in Policy” speaker series. Co-sponsored by the U of M medical student chapter of the American Medical Association, this monthly series features clinicians who have incorporated policy and advocacy into their careers. Thus far, audiences have consisted primarily of first and second- year medical students, in addition to faculty members and graduate students enrolled in other programs. Our discussions have focused on the policy issues at hand,
as well as practical advice for students interested in pursuing similar career paths.
In November, we kicked off the series with a talk from Dr. Jerry Walden, a retired family physician and co- founder of Physicians for Prevention of Gun Violence (PPGV), a Michigan-based organization that fosters a physician voice to reduce the epidemic of gun violence. Dr. Walden’s remarks felt especially timely in light of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1. He first presented his own career path and a brief history of gun control in the United States. Dr. Walden then invited his colleagues from PPGV to participate in a more open discussion on both the barriers and untapped opportunities for future physicians interested in broadening their impact via policy. As students, we left the talk with a greater sense of empowerment thanks to the knowledge and experiences of these practitioners.
Our second event in December featured Dr. John Hopper, an addiction specialist with a strong clinical and research interest in opioid management. Dr. Hopper gave a detailed overview of the history of opioid addiction in the United States, and many of us were surprised to learn about the longstanding nature of this problem, given the explosion of media coverage in recent months. In addition, he spoke at length on the evolution of addiction medicine as a subspecialty, particularly in Michigan, as well as practical strategies physicians can adopt in order to curb excessive opioid prescribing. For some of us, his remarks were also influential in narrowing down subspecialties we might like to pursue.
In the upcoming semester, the Physicians in Policy series will host Dr. Jessie Marshall, Medical Director of
the Washtenaw County Public Health Department, and Dr. John Ayanian, Director of the Institute of Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan. In February, Dr. Marshall will share her unique experiences as a public health practitioner with a medical background, and in April,
Dr. Ayanian will speak on the
current climate of healthcare reform in the United States.
We will provide more details about times and locations of these talks in the near future. All are welcome to attend.
Melinda is a first-year medical student and Internal Vice President of the University of Michigan Medical School chapter of the American Medical Association. If you have any suggestions for topics to feature in our “Physicians in Policy” speaker series, you can reach her at
Volume 70 • Number 1 Washtenaw County Medical Society BULLETIN 19

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