Some initial observations:
The American Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is one of the many professional (or in this case, pre-professional) organizations that represents various slices of the medical community. Of these, they are by far the biggest embarrassment to the medical community that I have encountered...
AMSA is a big pusher of the pharm-free movement, releasing an annual scorecard comparing medical schools’ policies on physician-pharm conflicts of interest. There are many polemical t-shirts on sale to this effect. In my view (and in that of many others), they’ve gone way too far… almost to the point of McCarthyism. Of course, this hasn’t stopped their conference from taking sponsorship money and selling booths to all manner of medical informatics companies, medical device companies, medical publishers, medical test prep companies, and of course… government.
AMSA is a big believer in “woo” (aka quackery of all stripes). Not only do they sponsor summer courses in such delightful nonsense as “therapeutic touch” (“reiki”), but they also invite the quacks into their conference. The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges has a booth here, and various naturopathic “schools” from across North America have sent students.
This group claims to represent the future doctors of America. What scares me is that they actually might.
Note: although I have not seen postings of AMSA courses devoted to therapeutic touch or reiki, the AMSA takes a promotional stance toward these and other forms of woo. In at least one of their courses there is non-critical content in the areas of ayruvedic medicine and shamanism. And they have cozied up to naturopathic medicine. I first blogged about AMSA's promotion of woo several years ago. AMSA not only shapes future leaders in medicine but also has a good deal of direct influence on medical school curricula. That's why the organization is one of the major drivers of quackademic medicine in the US.