My name is Devon Fletcher. I’m a Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellow at the Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems in Richmond, VA.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the American Medical Association’s Interim Meeting in San Diego this November as the AMA’s first ever AAHPM representative to the Resident and Fellow Section (RFS).

I’d been fairly active in the Medical Student Section (MSS) of the AMA during medical school but after moving to a new place and trying to focus on residency it ended up being years since my last AMA meeting. When I heard about this opportunity to rejoin the AMA I jumped at the opportunity to be more involved in organized medicine again.

Going to these meetings can be a little daunting the first few times. Things move fast. There are a lot of acronyms and abbreviations that get thrown around about which I had to refresh my memory! There has to be a “game plan” going in. It’s like a bee hive: People coming and going, everyone on their own little mission for the good of the whole. As part of the RFS, as in the MSS, I was again impressed with the number of articulate, dedicated hard working young residents and fellows working to improve health care delivery for our patients and for the working conditions affecting physicians.

Elected delegates from the MSS and RFS bring forward opinions from these sections to the House of Delegates Meeting (HOD) a few days later. Even with my previous experience with the AMA, I was reminded at how vast the medical community is across the nation. Being able to participate in a national debate with opinions from a wide variety of physicians and providers from around the country is incredibly eye-opening experience. It is important to understanding the common issues we face as physicians and discussion concerning how we can face these problems as a group.

Of course there were plenty of educational opportunities including a session on advance care planning —which just so happened to be led by one of the doctors from my medical school training in Jackson, MS.

The RFS is split into “regions”. Regions 1-7 are basically geographic sections. Region 8 is the subspecialty section with representatives from many of the major medical subspecialty societies across the nation. Our specialty section would like to have a conference call/tele-meeting to just discuss the issues going on with each field … really just for our own education. If any AAHPM members have anything they want other fields to hear or know about hospice and palliative medicine or there are major topics you would like to bring up that affect our field, get in touch!

If you want to get involved for the upcoming meetings you could also apply for an At-large delegate position!

More on the AMA-RFS 2010 Interim Meeting.