The Policy Committee oversees many of APSA's advocacy efforts. These include national surveys, direct advocacy to government and institutional leaders, and dissemination of information about physician-scientist training to policymakers locally and nationally. Below are some of our efforts.
As the nation’s policy in research and healthcare continues to evolve, it has become more and more critical for the next generation of physician scientists to speak up and influence the decisions of policy makers. The Policy Workshop at the 2018 APSA Annual Meeting will feature leaders in advocacy. The central theme is to provide hands-on tools to physician scientist trainees interested in learning more about ways to engage in the advocacy process.
To keep our members informed of policy proposals in the nation, and to educate our members on ways to make our voices heard, APSA and the Policy Committee works to provide important news updates regarding policies that may influence our training experiences.
As a means to engage APSA members, Institutional Representatives and Local Chapters, the Policy Committee has developed an internal resolutions proposal process. This allows individuals to provide formal input to the Executive Council and Board of Directors on issues related to member concerns, national policies, advocacy efforts, and more.
The National Institute of Health periodically announces request for information (RFI) in order to “seek input from stakeholders, including members of the scientific community, academic institutions, the private sector, health professionals, professional societies, advocacy groups, patient communities, as well as other interested members of the public.” As a representative organization of healthcare and medical research profession trainees, the APSA Policy Committee has participated in the drafting and submissions of RFI statements. Including the ones presented below.
The national Tomorrow's Physician seeks to broaden our understanding of the physician-scientist trainee population. While many have assessed MD/PhD trainees, few have been able to obtain insights into the attitudes and experiences of MD trainees with strong interest in research as part of their future careers. APSA leaders on the Policy Committee surveyed trainees as part of this initiative, separating trainees by MD/PhD, MD, and MD with strong research aspirations. The surveys of this project assessed career aspirations with respect to research and clinical specialty, perceived career obstacles, and attitudes towards research. The results of the pilot survey have been published and demonstrate that trainees of all kinds encounter a number of addressable obstacles early in training and that MD trainees with strong research interests are similar to but experience different obstacles from MD/PhD trainees.
APSA is actively advocating for changes in the USMLE seven-year time limit that exists for physician scientists in some states. This includes sending a resolution letter to the American Medical Association’s Medical Student Section, as well as a petition letter to the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). We are working towards the goal of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) eventually waiving the time limit for all physician scientist trainees regardless of their discipline.
A historical challenge of the physician-scientist training programs, coined the “major chasm of dual-degree training programs,” is integration of clinical skills during graduate training. It is recognized that different MD-PhD programs use various means of addressing this "major chasm," yet the specific structure of these curricula is largely unstudied. APSA conducted a survey among trainee representatives from over 60 institutions across the United States asking, “What (if any) does your respective program do to promote continuity of clinical skills during graduate research training?” The data collected includes responses from 51 institutions and reveals substantial variations in curricula.
Preliminary data will be presented at the 2018 APSA Annual Meeting with a full study following in the fall of this year.
The number of underrepresented minorities among medical school faculty members is significantly lower than predicted by their representation in the general population. There is no evidence that this will change in the near future. APSA is collaborating with the Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP) initiative and the Keystone Symposia initiative to better identify the unique challenges faced by minority physician scientists, and to develop measures that may help retention and career advancement.. Submission of the manuscript is imminent.
The manuscript “Factors Determining Underrepresented Minority Medical Scientists Career Choices,” has been reviewed and revisions are currently being reviewed for publication.
This initiative aims to address gender disparities for women in science and medicine via educational, mentoring and advocacy opportunities. APSA has held several panels during its annual meetings and written about the topic and potential solutions.
The Policy Committee has always maintained a strong presence at the APSA Annual Meetings, hosting timely and relevant workshops and panels for trainees. Some of the recent panels include:
Key Issues Facing Physician Scientists: Insights and Policies Governing Bench to Bedside, Entrepreneurship in Biomedical Research, which included the Commissioner of the Food and Drugs Administration, Dr. Stephen Ostroff
Policies Governing Bench to Bedside: Entrepreneurship in Biomedical Research, which included the Director of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins
Public Outreach of the Physician-Scientist, which included the Senior Vice President of Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Bechara Choucair, and the President of the Lasker Foundation, Dr. Claire Pomeroy
Policies Governing Bench to Bedside: Insights into Translational Research, which included the Director of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins
F30 fellowships are a significant source of funding for early-stage physician scientists who wish to pursue independent research projects that accentuate training and further scientific progress. F30 fellowship awards are granted by the National Research Service Award (NRSA), which has been established and supported through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To date, only 10 of the 27 NIH institutes support this funding mechanism. APSA sees an urgent need to expand the NIH support for this program. In 2009, APSA created a national survey that aims to assess the need for expansion of the F30 fellowship awards. APSA is collecting data on awareness and availability of F30 awards, as well as its funding levels of support for applicants.
The Comprehensive Review of USMLE (CRU), an initiative of the Composite Committee of the USMLE, sought to review the test content, format, and competency criteria of the exams. As part of CRU, the Committee to Evaluate the USMLE Program, solicited inputs from student representatives in various national organizations, including the American Medical Student Association, the American Medical Association - Medical Student Section, and the Association of American Medical Colleges - Organization of Students Representatives. In order to expand trainee feedback, APSA also developed a national survey aimed at obtaining more quantitative and objective data.