RFS Connection: Spring 2014

News from the  TMA Resident and Fellow Section  


Don't Miss the RFS Business Meeting at TexMed 2014

Join us for the next Resident and Fellow Section meeting at TexMed 2014 in Fort Worth on Friday, May 2, at 2 pm. The meeting will include a presentation on physician contracts; discussion on pertinent resolutions; Executive Council elections; board, council, and committee appointments; and more. Conference attendance is free for all TMA members.

Open positions for the RFS Executive Council are:   

  • Chair-Elect,
  • Reporter,
  • TMA Delegates (four positions), and
  • TMA Alternate Delegates (four positions).  

To apply for the 2014-15 term, submit a letter of intent and CV to your section coordinator by April 21.

And don't miss an opportunity to mingle with your peers at the Student, Resident, and Young Physician Mixer, Friday, May 2, from 10 pm to 2 am at Whiskey & Rye at the Omni hotel.

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 New Debt Management Help for Medical Students, Residents

The Association of American Medical Colleges published a new guide on managing medical education-related debt titled, Education Debt Manager for Graduating Medical School Students. The guide is part of the Financial Information, Resources, Services, and Tools (FIRST) program to help students and residents navigate the complexities of financial aid, student debt, and money management.

According to the guide, 85 percent of the 2013 graduating class of U.S. medical students reported they were leaving medical school with student loan debt, with an average debt load of $172,000. 

FIRST’s guide provides step-by-step, easy-to-understand strategies for managing student loan debt and repayment. The resource features detailed information on types of loans, how and when to pay them off, tax credits for loans, financial literacy, budgeting, and credit scores.

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 MD, DO Residency Accreditation Systems Merge

After months of waiting, the national allopathic and osteopathic accreditation systems for residency training programs agreed in February to merge into a single system.   

"A single accreditation system provides the opportunity to introduce and consistently evaluate new physician competencies that are needed to meet patient needs and the health care delivery challenges facing the U.S. over the next decade," said Thomas Nasca, MD, chief executive officer of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).  

American Osteopathic Association (AOA) President Norman E. Vinn, DO, says the two training systems will each retain its "unique principles and practices."  

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) endorsed the merger. "The growing collaboration between the allopathic and osteopathic physician communities will only serve to improve patient care for all Americans," said Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC president and chief executive officer.  

Under the merger:  

  • Allopathic and osteopathic medical school graduates can apply to either residency training program. Allopathic graduates applying to osteopathic-focused programs must meet certain training requirements. 
  • Osteopathic residency programs have from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2020, to obtain ACGME accreditation.
  • Two newly developed osteopathic residency review committees will examine and evaluate osteopathic-focused residency training programs.
  • AOA and AACOM will become member organizations of ACGME.  

Osteopathic physicians have been entering allopathic residency programs in larger numbers. In Texas, 181 osteopathic physicians ― a 62-percent increase ― matched to allopathic residency positions from 2009 to 2013.  

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Apply Now to Serve on TMA Boards, Councils, Committees

Resident and fellow representatives and alternate representatives serve one-year terms on TMA boards, councils, and committees (BCCs). Apply now for the 2014-15 BCC term by submitting an application to your section coordinator by April 21.

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Should Texas Medical Licensing Laws Include Testing Limits?

Both the November and December issues of It’s Academic invited readers to take an informal poll on whether TMA should support limits on passage attempts for national tests such as the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Texas law sets the limit at three attempts per test and at seven years for completion of the testing series, with some exceptions. 

Bills routinely surface each session to increase or even completely waive these limits to accommodate an individual physician’s testing record. TMA’s Council on Medical Education has been considering whether to draft new TMA policy on testing limits. About 1.3 percent of newsletter subscribers participated in the poll. 

Results From Informal Poll on Testing Limits, to Date (49 responses)

The overwhelming majority expressed support for limits: 

  • 69 percent favored limits on testing passage attempts.
  • 47 percent supported a passage attempt limit of three per test.
  • 69 percent favored a time limit for completion of a testing series.
  • 47 percent supported a limit of seven years for completion of a full testing series (e.g., USMLE). 
  • 78 percent did not support lower testing requirements if a physician makes a commitment to practice in an underserved community.
  • 58 percent supported lower testing requirements if a physician has had an unrestricted license in another state and is in good standing for at least five years.  

The Council on Medical Education plans to submit a policy proposal to the TMA House of Delegates at TexMed in May. Watch for more in coming issues of It’s Academic

A related story, “Testing the Limits: TMA Evaluates New Policy on Medical Licensing Tests,” in the February 2014 issue of Texas Medicine, touches on various aspects of medical education and residency training in addition to state medical licensing laws. Texas medical schools and residency programs have specific testing requirements for their medical students, residency program candidates, and residents. 

Most Texas medical schools won’t promote students from the second to third year of medical school if they have not passed Step 1 of the USMLE, and won’t graduate them until they pass Step 2, Christian T. Cable, MD, explains in the article. And, most graduate medical education programs won’t advance students to a higher level of residency needed for board certification until they pass Step 3. 

Dr. Cable is a member of TMA’s Council on Medical Education and director of the hematology/oncology fellowship at Baylor Scott & White Health. 

The article notes that changing medical license testing limits without taking into consideration the medical school graduate’s potential ability to enter residency training could create a gap between state rules and medical school policies. Such a gap could harm a candidate’s potential for being admitted into a residency program. 

The article includes the perspective of a San Antonio physician who graduated from a medical school outside the United States. The physician drew attention to the possibility that international medical graduates may have more difficulty in gaining admission to a residency program. Those who are delayed a year or more in entering residency training could reasonably be expected to have greater difficulty in completing a full testing series within a seven-year limit, the story states.  

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 Survey Says Residents Concerned About Time With Patients

Residents worry about reduced “face-time” with patients, according to The American Resident Survey by The American Resident Project. More than 80 percent say care coordination will help them better manage chronic diseases by allowing more time with patients. 

About the same percentage of residents who work in team-based care settings say medical school prepared them well for working in this environment. A majority report their ability to engage patients in their own care is more challenging than they anticipated. 

The survey asked residents from across the country about issues ranging from public policy to patient engagement and included questions on the most pressing concerns and important trends they face as they begin a career in medicine.  

 Register for TexMed 2014

Register today for TMA’s free annual conference, and join thousands of Texas physicians and fellow medical students, as TexMed 2014 descends on Fort Worth May 2-3 for a weekend of networking, policymaking, and all-around fun. 

TexMed is TMA’s largest event of the year. Stop by the Ask the Expert booth in the Grand Pavilion to network and chat with specialists from an array of disciplines. Explore cutting-edge topics and earn continuing medical education (CME) credit May 2 and 3 at the TMA Learning Labs in the conference Expo Hall. Be sure to catch this year’s keynote speaker, Zubin Damania, MD — perhaps better known for his alter ego and street persona, ZDoggMD.

Practicing medicine today involves a dizzying array of regulations, standards, electronic health records, and payment plans that interfere with physicians’ ability to develop a positive, productive medical culture. In his TexMed General Session presentation, Redefining the Culture of Medicine, Dr. Damania will delve into the ethical challenges of delivering excellent care in our dysfunctional health care system and will propose ways to revitalize it. 

In his new Las Vegas clinic, Turntable Health, Dr. Damania seeks to break down the barriers, bringing together physicians and frontline health care professionals to mend the system and put autonomy back into health care.

Be sure to connect with Dr. Damania before attending TexMed 2014. And check out ZDoggMD’s personal invitation for you to join him at the conference.

For a full schedule of events, exhibitors, lodging information, and fun things to do in and around Fort Worth, visit the TexMed 2014 webpage, and be sure to register today to reserve your spot. 

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Become a Leader in Organized Medicine

Take on a leadership role, and get more involved in organized medicine by representing your colleagues on one of the following AMA councils and committees, all of which have open seats:  

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 Mark Your Calendar for AMA-RFS Meeting June 5-7

Pack your bags for Chicago, the site of the American Medical Association Resident and Fellow Section annual assembly meeting June 5-7. The meeting, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, offers you an opportunity to voice your concerns with health care, share ideas, develop leadership skills, and form coalitions to effect positive change.

Meeting highlights include: 

  • Connecting with resident and fellow physician colleagues from across the country,
  • Attending educational sessions on issues relevant to resident and fellow physicians, and
  • Submitting resolutions and helping to create policy. 

Submit your resolutions by April 17 to rfs@ama-assn.org.

For a position on the AMA-RFS Governing Council, apply by April 21. Open seats include:  

  • Vice-chair, 
  • Delegate, 
  • Alternate delegate, 
  • Speaker, 
  • Vice-speaker, and 
  • Member-at-large.  

Visit the AMA-RFS Web site for more information, or contact Krystal White at the AMA.

Stay Connected

Keep up with important news and connect with colleagues across the state through the RFS Facebook page

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