AMA 2023 Interim: Highlights from Newly Adopted AMA Policies on Medical Education

( During the 2023 American Medical Association (AMA)’s Interim meeting in National Harbor, MD, the House of Delegates adopted several important pieces of policy related to Medical Education that have implications for urologists. The ongoing rural workforce crisis has been a major advocacy priority of organized urology – according to the American Urological Association (AUA), over 60% of counties in America do not have a single urologist.

The American Medical Association has formally endorsed the Specialty Physicians Advancing Rural Care Act, known as the SPARC Act, introduced in Congress. The bill introduces student loan repayment programs to encourage specialty medical care in rural areas. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is tasked with implementing a program for specialty medicine physicians working in rural communities facing shortages. Participating physicians commit to a specified service period, during which HRSA pays a portion of their student loan principal and interest annually, up to a maximum of $250,000. However, given that Congress is currently facing a shutdown, the bill is unlikely to be passed this year.

The Medical Society of Idaho introduced a resolution to the House of Delegates asking the AMA to formally advocate, alongside other major medical associations, for a comprehensive re-evaluation and assessment of the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scoring criteria used by the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. Currently, scoring criteria was felt, by the Idaho delegation, to undervalue the rural health needs in America. The introduced policy aimed to ensure effectiveness and equity of HPSA scoring, particularly for the neediest rural areas. In-person testimonies, citing concerns about bias in scoring, supported this need for reassessment. The AUA formally commented on the need for scoring reform and thanked the AMA for their support of the SPARC Act. Given that the current Shortage Designation Modernization Project by the federal government is underway, the resolution was ultimately referred to the AMA's Council on Medical Education for further reporting and comment.

Additional policies concerning Medical Education were adopted during the meeting, including a formal report from the Committee on Medical Education recognizing the specialty board certification process, as well as a policy promoting the formation of peer-led resident/fellow organizations for advocacy and supporting a formal process for transferring between medical education programs without penalty.

Written by: Ruchika Talwar, MD, Urologic Oncology Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center during the 2023 AMA Interim Meeting, Nov 10 to Nov 14