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AMSA's Paul Ambrose Health Care for All Leadership Institute

Course last offered: August 2008
Page last updated: April 15, 2009


Mary Carol Jennings
Phone: 703-620-6600

For over fifty years, the American Medical Student Association has been a leader in the fight for affordable health care for all (HCA). Through leadership training, coalition building, and grassroots community work, AMSA continues this proud tradition today.

As embodied in our constitution, AMSA supports the establishment of "universal health care in America, as defined by guaranteeing access to quality and affordable health care for all persons living in the United States." Though conservative politicos have attempted to dismiss the original Universal Health Care movement as"socialized medicine", AMSA members have rebranded this movement and recognize that our work for Health Care for All permeates throughout our work for health care justice with deep ramifications for our nation's economy, stability, and healthy future.

AMSA's Paul Ambrose Health Care for All Leadership Institute was created to provide students with the training they need to become leaders in this movement on the local, state, and national levels. If you believe that today's health care system falls far short of the needs of our patients and communities; if you believe that significant health care reform is needed now; if you believe that future physicians must be active in the fight for a universal health care for all system; and if you believe that YOU can be a leader in the movement to achieve health care for all, then take the next step and participate in AMSA's Paul Ambrose Health Care for All Leadership Institute!

As a PAHCALI Leadership Institute participant, you will:

  • Attend the entire institute at AMSA's national office in Reston, Virginia (near Washington, DC): October 3-5, 2008
  • Learn from national experts about the uninsured, under-insured strategies for achieving health care for all, state-based HCA initiatives, Medicare and Medicaid, international health care systems, and more.
  • Learn from veterans of Universal Health Care campaigns about the process of grassroots organizing, including coalition-building and strategic campaign planning.
  • Learn and practice the basics of grassroots advocacy: call-ins, letter-writing, public speaking, lobbying with AMSA’s Health Policy Action Network, and more.
  • Learn about the concept of framing as it applies to universal health care.
  • Have an opportunity to lobby Congress on a topic related to health care access.

If selected to participate, you will be required to:

  • Read "Don't Think of An Elephant" by George Lakoff before arriving to the institute. A copy of this concise and essential best seller will be mailed to you free of charge
  • Actively Plan and Execute one of our Health Care for All Steering Committee programs (we will teach you about these)
  • Organize a Health Care for All event on your campus
  • Organize One Lobby Day or Direct Action Event in Your State
  • Attend the AMSA National Convention in DC in March and participate in Health Care for All events


Applications are being accepted NOW for this incredible opportunity. Prior knowledge of health policy and/or involvement in community organizing or health care reform efforts of any kind, while desirable, is not required. This opportunity is available to ALL AMSA members - premedical, medical, and International.

Participants must arrive Thursday, October 2, and depart no earlier than Sunday, October 5 at 5pm (the 3rd will be a lobby day on the Hill). This year, up to fourteen students will be selected to attend the Leadership Institute. AMSA will provide for meals and lodging, but we request that the student's school cover the cost of transportation to and from Reston, Virginia.

Please submit the following to the Jack Rutledge Legislative Director via e-mail at by Friday, August 22, 2008, 11:59 PM Pacific Time:

  1. Current CV or resume, including name, address, phone number(s), e-mail address, undergraduate or medical school, anticipated graduation year. AMSA activities and other extracurricular activities, awards/honors, and publications should be included.
  2. Letter of intent, not to exceed 500 words, that explains your interest in health care for all, as well as how attending the Institute will help you become more involved with this movement at your school, community and/or your state.
  3. Essay, not to exceed 800 words, on one of the following two questions. Essays will be judged on the quality of writing and coherence of the argument. Please indicate which question you are answering at the top of your essay. [Note: We are not looking for a formal paper with references, but rather a thoughtful statement].

Background: Polls show that most Americans support universal health care, but polls also show that Americans cannot agree on the single best solution for guaranteeing health care for all. There are literally hundreds of options to achieve UHC -- single payer, expansion of public programs like Medicaid, federal-state partnerships (federal money to states to implement UHC), employer mandates, individual mandates, tax credits, and more.

Questions (select one of the following):

  1. Suppose you were given the power to provide health care for all in America. Which option for achieving this would you choose, and why? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the option you choose? How do the advantages out-weigh the disadvantages?
  2. There are many reasons we have not achieved health care for all in America despite popular support for the idea. In your opinion, what are the biggest reasons behind this failure to achieve universal access in America? How can we as an organization move to overcome these obstacles?

Applicants will be notified of acceptance via e-mail by August 31, 9:00 pm EST. This will give applicants approximately four weeks to purchase a plane ticket if necessary. Note: plane tickets tend to be more expensive if not purchased at least 21 days before the flight date.

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