Leaders in Medical Education

Dr. Britani Kessler, American Medical Student Association

Osmosis Team
Aug 25, 2014

Dr. Britani Kessler serves as the National President of the American Medical Student Association, the largest independent organization of pre-medicals students in the country. She is a recent graduate of Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her work with AMSA caught our attention, so we reached out to her to learn more about her experiences with pre-medical and medical education!

How did you decide on a career in medicine?

I decided on a career in medicine because of my love of science. As a child, I always loved figuring out how the body works and thinking about biology in general. I also thought of diagnosis and treatment as a puzzle, which excited me. I always liked interacting with people, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

Why did you decide to pursue a position at the American Medical Student Association?

I was one of the first people in my family to go to college, so when I decided to become pre-med, I had no idea what was expected of me. At my school, we had an American Medical Student Association (AMSA) chapter, so I went to a meeting to see what it was all about. At my first meeting, I was surrounded by people who gave me a lot of positive energy and showed me what it was like to succeed as a medical student. I felt as if I was in a group of empowered people. I went to my first AMSA convention and rally, where I was surrounded by 1000 students in white coats. We were rallying on the hills of Washington DC for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and I realized the power of the position and training that we had. I knew that this was an organization I wanted to a part of and grow up with during my medical education.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing medical students today?

Obviously, there is so much coursework that is involved in becoming a medical student, so it is very hard for them to focus on much outside of the classroom. The landscape of healthcare is changing very fast and it is very difficult for students to keep up with their coursework, extracurriculars, and the dynamic environment. By the time they graduate from medical school, they might not understand the issues that physicians are facing right now. In addition, the amount of student debt is increasing and the graduate medical education funding has stagnated.

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How do you wish to see technology and social media integrated into medical education?

Right now, I think that medical schools are trying to keep up with the new technologies and social media, but I really think they should continue working on this while focusing on more of the mobile technologies such as the iPad. For example, it would be incredibly helpful for students to get their coursework or lecture on the iPad. AMSA is focused on bringing mobile technologies into medical education as well.  We invited Dr. Warren Wiechmann, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine from University of California Irvine, to our AMSA National Convention. He was one of the first professors to incorporate the iPad and Google Glasses into medical education, and we are excited to welcome him to our convention.

As president of the AMSA, what changes do you wish to see in medical education?

I would really like to see medical schools focus more on the social aspects of healthcare and what it means to be a physician. There needs to be more education on how medical students advocate for themselves and for their future patients. In addition, there are gaps in education such as LGBT health which aren’t being taught. All in all, I would like to see medical schools focus more on their social mission.