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Local Lawmakers Experience a Day in the Life of Medical Students Thanks to Project Medical Education

Monday, September 14, 2009

 Current students and lawmakers gathered with the dean for a class picture on August 10 at the first of two Project Medical Education sessions.

Members of the Maryland Legislature and other state officials got a taste of life as a medical student on August 10 and September 14, 2009. It was all part of Project Medical Education (PME), an initiative of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to educate lawmakers and other policymakers about the importance of medical education, its complex funding mechanisms and the essential role of government in providing financial support.


“This is an event that many medical schools put on during the year,” explained E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Dean of the School of Medicine. “We believe that the more our representatives understand how medical education is conducted in this country, the better we will understand each other and be supportive of each other.”


Delegate Jim Mathias, a representative from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, attended the earlier session with his son Trevor, who is a pre-med student at UMBC and hopes to attend the School of Medicine after graduation. Having met many of our medical students when they came to Annapolis to promote the school, Delegate Mathias wanted to let them know their message is not being ignored. “I’m very proud that here in the state of Maryland we have the oldest public medical school in America,” said Delegate Mathias. “In this very difficult economic time, we want them to know that we are going to muster together to make the decisions that will continue to fund the school and all the good that they do.”


State senator Jim Robey, who represents Eastern Howard County, was excited to learn what medical students go through to become good doctors. “I also wanted a better understanding of how I – as a state senator serving on the budget and taxation committee – can be more understanding of the financing needs of institutions such as this.” His favorite part of the day was getting to talk with students about why they chose medicine. “They are here not for themselves but because they want to help other people and better this world.”


As they arrived, the participants were asked to don a white coat, the traditional garb of medicine. Then it was off to class, which started – as the first year of medical school does for all medical students here – in the Anatomy lab. Larry Anderson, PhD, a professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, explained the importance of the 10-week anatomy course for first-year students and let the lawmakers  take a look at one of the cadavers used for study.


Participants then toured medical school labs, classrooms and patient care areas, seeing firsthand the costly technology required to educate medical students and treat patients in the 21st century. They heard research presentations from faculty, including Alessio Fasano, MD, who presented on the exciting new breakthrough he and his team recently made in their research into celiac disease. There were also discussions on the H1N1 vaccine, health disparities, student debt, and the importance of state funding for new facilities like HSF III to help keep the School of Medicine competitive. The day ended with an opportunity to speak with real-life medical students, not only about their futures but the future of medicine, as well.
To learn more about Project Medical Education, please visit the AAMC website.

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 Larry Anderson, PhD, started his anatomy presentation in the classroom but later led the more adventurous participants into the cadaver lab.

 Delegate Jim Mathias attended with his son Trevor, who is interested in a career in medicine.

 Dean Reece and students welcomed more lawmakers to campus on September 14.

 Dr. Alessio Fasano was among the faculty who presented their research to the policymakers.

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