Abortion Training, Childhood Obesity Catch Medical Students’ Attention
August 17, 2011 -- OHSU medical student Richard Bruno has taken his passions – healthier diets for kids, improved working conditions for medical students, preserving access to abortion training and investigating the feasibility of a single-payer healthcare system – to a national level.
“If there's anything that sort of underlies all this, it's that medical student advocacy is really something that should be encouraged at medical schools,” Bruno said. “Medical students can be a voice for the voiceless, uninsured patients who are out there. If we teach them to harness the power of their short, white coats, they could really start to make a difference starting now and throughout their careers.”
At the end of July, the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) held its annual conference – which included a student congress – in Kansas City. Bruno and several colleagues drafted policy resolutions that are expected to come before its Scientific Assembly in September.
As far as abortion training for medical students, which came under attack when the Foxx Amendment passed Congress recently, Bruno felt “we should take a stronger stance on this issue, especially given the national push.” That amendment restricts the ability of medical schools to receive federal funding if they teach students how to perform abortions.
Improving the working conditions for medical students also caught Bruno’s attention. A recent article in the New York Times focused on the plight of sleep-deprived doctors, which led to patients receiving inferior care. “I'm just getting a taste of this as a third-year medical student,” Bruno said. “No one's tracking my hours. No one's telling me when to go home.”
Bruno also believes the AAFP should create a task force to research a single-payer healthcare system, referring to a study commissioned by Vermont published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that a single-payer system would not only save the state money, but be beneficial for everyone.
Childhood obesity is another cause trumpeted by Bruno and his colleagues. Earlier this year the Oregon Medical Association rejected a resolution calling upon McDonald’s to stop marketing to children. “The OMA was trepidatious about calling out a single company,” he said.
Now Bruno is calling upon the AAFP to sever its ties to Coca-Cola, which advertises on that website.
“It’s pretty much a conflict of interest,” he said, because these advertisements contradict information on the same website, asserting that sugar-sweetened beverages are unhealthy.