Abhi Amarnani, a SUNY Downstate third-year MD/PhD student, advocates nationally for students to have a say in the evolution of medical school curriculum. He is also the vice chair of the national 12-member American Medical Association (AMA), Medical Student Section Standing Committee on Medical Education.
Abhi showcased the Downstate College of Medicine to over 350 attendees of the AMA Med Ed Conference in Chicago in October. Both the AMA and Downstate are strong proponents for student participation, Abhi said.
“Downstate does a very good job of taking input and encouraging us to play a role in the curricular development of our medical education,” he said.
Downstate launched the Medical Educator Pathway (MEP) at the beginning of the 2015 school year to equip future educators, academic researchers and curriculum developers. The pathway is directed by Dr. Lee Eisner, Dr. Nagaraj Gabbur, and Dr. John Kubie, and received funding from the Downstate College of Medicine Alumni Association.
Abhi was one of more than 60 students at the first information session. He joined the program, and through MEP encouragement, has been piloting the development of a population health elective with five other students.
“Participating in the MEP is an effective yet simple way to incentivize students to come out of the woodwork and bring forward MedEd innovations,” Abhi said.
Dr. Phyllis Supino is the major content mentor for the elective, with support from Dr. Pamela Sass. The students are now working with their mentors to submit their program proposal through the formal elective approval process.
As part of the project, Downstate students engaged with a simulated group practice through the NYU Health Care by the Numbers toolset, funded by an AMA grant for curriculum development. Students use both introductory virtual patient panels and real de-identified patient data from the New York State Department of Health SPARCS database. These panels provide a broad look at community health information and introduce students to open-data technology that will one day be a standard skillset.
“It’s a marriage of technology and public health,” Abhi said.
The other five student participants are Downstate medical third-year Debashree Sengupta, third-year Daniel Chiu, third-year Andrew Davidowitz, second-year Kenny Chao, and second-year Sophia Dynes.