News

New York State Budget Restores Funding to Diversity in Medicine Programs

The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), on Behalf of Underrepresented in Medicine Students, Thanks the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus

(New York, NY) – On behalf of all 16 medical schools in New York State, and particularly medical students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine, the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) commends NY State legislators for restoring funding for AMSNY Diversity in Medicine programs in the FY2019 budget to the current year level.  The program was facing a 20 percent cut, on top of the 22.5 percent cut sustained last year.

“AMSNY Diversity in Medicine programs, funded by the NYS Department of Health, have a 94+ percent success rate and have produced hundreds of doctors who often serve in primary care in underserved communities,” said Jo Wiederhorn, CEO of AMSNY.  “The return on investment for New York is enormous and we are grateful to the State Assembly, the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus, the Hispanic Task Force, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes for understanding this value and advocating for these programs.”

These state-funded programs are crucial, as a lack of diversity in medicine persists in New York State. Underrepresented minorities (Black/African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos) make up approximately 31% of the population but only 12% of the state’s physician workforce, according to data from the SUNY Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies.

This lack of representation has implications for medical care across the state, as research shows that patients who have doctors from similar racial or ethnic backgrounds have better medical experiences. Additionally, physicians from underrepresented minority groups are more likely to practice primary care and practice in low-income and underserved areas.

The new budget also includes $500,000 for diversity in medicine scholarships, which cover the cost of tuition for 1 year for 10 students who graduated from AMSNY post-baccalaureate programs. The cost of medical school tuition is among the biggest barriers to entry for underrepresented in medicine students.

AMSNY’s state-funded Diversity in Medicine Program has enabled over 480 students from economically or educationally underserved areas to become doctors. The programs include the 25-year-old, one-year post-baccalaureate program at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, and master’s programs at New York Medical College, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

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The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is a consortium of the 16 public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to promote high quality and cost-efficient health care by assuring that the medical schools of New York State can provide outstanding medical education, care and research. The combined total of New York’s medical schools economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion. This means $1 in every $13 in the New York economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information on AMSNY, please visit: www.amsny.org

 

Contact: Jaime Williams, jaime@anatgerstein.com,  718-793-2211 ext 107

Letter to the Editor, Queens Chronicle: Save aid for med students

Dear Editor:

I’m an African-American male who grew up in Queens, and am now a third-year medical student at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo thanks to a state-funded diversity in medicine pipeline program run by the Associated Medical Schools of New York.

This program has helped me tremendously. When I heard that the AMSNY programs are facing funding cuts, I was deeply saddened.

Many of the minority physicians that I have met have gone through the AMSNY programs, and it is their accomplishments that let me know that I too can one day become a physician and a role model in my community. Growing up in the inner city, I found that often times the easiest figures to try to emulate were athletes or entertainers. It wasn’t until I was introduced to other professionals that I started to believe a vocation like this was something I could achieve.

The inclusion of underrepresented minorities in our medical ranks as physicians is critical to continuing progress in healthcare. Cutting funding to programs like AMSNY that address the problem of the disparity in healthcare representation would be a disservice, not only to the practice of medicine but to minority communities.

Samuel Opoku-Acheampong
Buffalo
The writer is from Springfield Gardens.
http://www.qchron.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/save-aid-for-med-students/article_c19ea885-ef48-5972-a1a5-84bbfe1eb149.html

Letter to the Editor, Syracuse Post-Standard: Don’t cut funding for diversity in medicine program

To the Editor:

I am a Latina who grew up in Syracuse. My parents migrated from the Dominican Republic to provide our family with better opportunities. One of these opportunities that has changed my life and opened many doors for me is the Associated Medical Schools of New York‘s Post Baccalaureate program at University at Buffalo.

Growing up on the Near Westside always made me question my ability of achieving my goal and becoming a doctor. I was told many times my goal was too big. This program has given me the opportunity to finally reach my goal, and provided me with resources I need to prepare myself to be a successful doctor. Now, I will be attending SUNY Upstate Medical University.

This program, and other diversity in medicine pipeline programs from AMSNY, are funded by the New York state Department of Health, and this year are facing a 20 percent cut in funding. That means that 1 in 5 future AMSNY students from underrepresented backgrounds will not get the chance to become doctors. I have seen firsthand in Syracuse how important it is to have doctors from similar backgrounds to receive better medical experiences.

By becoming the best doctor I can be and serving my community, I am doing my part to improve healthcare in New York. I’m asking my representatives to do their part and protect funding for AMSNY programs.

Tiffany Mateo
Syracuse

 

http://www.syracuse.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/03/dont_cut_funding_for_diversity_in_medicine_program_your_letters.html

NYS Assembly Restores Cuts to Diversity in Medicine Programs in Families First Budget Proposal

Associated Medical Schools of New York, on Behalf of Underrepresented in Medicine Students, Thanks State Assembly, the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes

 

In response to the release of the New York State Assembly FY19 Families First budget proposal, Associated Medical Schools of New York President Jo Wiederhorn issued the following statement:

“Students who are underrepresented in medicine today gained a champion in the State Assembly with the restoration of cuts proposed to the highly successful and much-needed diversity in medicine programs run by AMSNY.

“And they are not the only winners in this proposed budget; New Yorkers from diverse backgrounds will be better served and experience improved health outcomes when they have access to doctors who represent their diversity.

“New York has a big gap between diverse doctors and diverse patients.  For 25 years, AMSNY diversity in medicine programs, thanks to funding from New York State, has worked to close the gap by paving the way for more underrepresented in medicine students to become doctors.

“The programs have a 94+ percent success rate and have produced hundreds of doctors who often serve in primary care in underserved communities.  The return on investment is enormous and we are grateful to the State Assembly, the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes for proposing a restoration to the cuts.”

The State Assembly proposed restoring the program budget to $1,244,000, up $248,800 from the governor’s proposed budget.  The program was cut 22.5 percent in the FY18 budget. At its height, the program had a $1,960,000 budget and served more students from high school through post-baccalaureate.  For more information, visit https://amsny.org/initiatives/advocacy/state-advocacy/

Business Insider: Why I’m Donating My Body to Science

A few years ago my mother told me she was donating her body to science. I investigated why this is a good alternative to a traditional funeral. In New York, the Associated Medical Schools of New York help license whole body donation programs amongst medical colleges in the state. These reputable schools serve as a protection against the darker side of body brokers. When I pass on, my body will be going to science. Following is a transcript of the video.

Kevin Reilly: When I die, this body is going straight to science. It’s not going in a casket. It’s not going to a crematorium. I’m going to donate it right to a medical school. Why?

Peggy Reilly: My name is Peggy Reilly. I’m 65 years old.

Kevin Reilly: This is my mother. And the story starts with her. She traveled all around the world, raised three awesome kids, and is generally amazing. But then something happened.

Peggy Reilly: I had a stroke on March 23rd, 2012.

Kevin Reilly: The stroke was caused by a blood vessel bursting in her brain. It changed everything.

Peggy Reilly: I miss working properly, taking care of my husband and my children. I miss that. And driving, and … taking care of the dogs, and cleaning the house. And walking. I miss all that.

Kevin Reilly: A few years after the stroke, she told me she wanted to donate her body to science. And my reaction was, “Why?” Because it’s expensive to have a funeral. But I’d like them to learn from my body, so that they can use everything from my whole entire body, and the bones and everything.

Funerals are expensive. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median price is about $7,300. And a cremation is only about a thousand dollars cheaper. This is a funeral pricing checklist from the Federal Trade Commission. Basic service for the funeral director and staff, pickup of body, embalming, other preparation of body, casket, funeral memorial service, graveside service, including staff and equipment, hearse.

This is ridiculous. I don’t want to put my loved ones through that. So this got me thinking that, like my mom, I should use what I have to help people once I’m dead. So I went to find out how I can donate my body.

This is Jo Wiederhorn. She’s the President and CEO of the Associated Medical Schools of New York. That’s the group that makes sure body donation programs in New York are legit.

Jo Wiederhorn: So the process is really very easy. First of all, when you decide that that’s what you want to do, you should contact the medical school that you want to donate to. And I would say that you should donate to a medical school. They are licensed; they go through a rigorous process to become licensed.

Kevin Reilly: Medical schools seem like an obvious choice, but there’s a darker reasoning behind this.

Newscast: Revealing new details about a case of human body parts sold on the black market. A private company was selling body parts from bodies that had been donated?

Kevin Reilly: There’s a whole cottage industry of “body brokers.”

Newscast: Some U.S. companies are making a fortune by selling human bodies that were donated to science.

Kevin Reilly: A Reuters investigation revealed that this often unregulated business is worth millions and rarely guarantees that your body is going to be used for what you hope for.

Wiederhorn: Really, if you want to ensure that your body is going to go for educational purposes, because that’s what most people want to do. They want to be able to help train the next era of physicians. So, the best place to do that is to a medical school. Every single one of our, we have 16 medical schools in New York. Every single one of them has a donor program.

Kevin Reilly: Dr. Jeffrey Laitman is the Director of Anatomy and Functional Morphology at the Icahn School of Madison at Mount Sinai. This is where my body will wind up. But I needed to know why these schools really wanted my body.

Dr. Jeffrey Laitman: The laying on of hands is a sacred trust, a very, very special thing to do. That process begins in the first day of an anatomy class. It’s a very difficult thing for a student to do. In our culture, we refer to the cadaver as one’s first patient.

Kevin Reilly: But with all the advances in technology, from VR to animatronics, why do they need to use real bodies?

Mark Bailey [Student]: Everything up to this point is very conceptual: PowerPoint slides, drawings in books. And this is the first time you see a tangible representation of humanity and how we’re going to treat them.

Kevin Reilly: The students dissect cadavers in their first anatomy classes, practicing on human bodies before they ever step into a surgery room. And even experienced doctors continue to use cadavers.

Laitman: Other things can be helpful. And you can learn from models and computer programs and all sorts of wonderful adjuncts. But the key of medicine as long as you’ll be treating real people is gonna be learning from real people.

Grace Mosley [Student]: The body is not just a box that has organs in it. Everything’s not always in the same place. Within the course we have oral exams in which the teaching assistants will come around and ask us questions about all of the different structures that we should have dissected or learned the names of. And my first oral exam, I was so nervous. But I felt calmer than expected, and I realized at the end of the test that I had actually been holding my cadaver’s hand, which was somewhat horrifying but strangely comforting.

Kevin Reilly: And if you’re wondering what happens to the cadavers once they’re done with them …

Laitman: And when the course is over, the remains are then either cremated or buried, depending upon the wishes of the deceased.

Kevin Reilly: Each year, many of the schools hold special ceremonies honoring the donors. Here at the University of Buffalo, friends and family were invited to join the students and doctors. That’s right, I get a service, burial or cremation, and I’m helping to train doctors. Cost? Zero. It’s covered by the school.

Now, to be clear, donating your body to science is different from being an organ donor on your license. With whole-body donation, the organs are kept intact. Students need all the parts to learn about the whole body. So the only thing left to do is mail out the form, because when I go, this is going to science.

If you want to find out more about whole-body donation, call your local medical school. Or use this full list of programs put together by the Anatomical Board of the State of Florida.

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/donating-my-body-science-when-i-die-2018-3

 

Buffalo News Editorial: Restore funding for health program

Even in a year of a significant deficit, this cut doesn’t make sense. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed 2018-19 state budget would make it harder for minority students to become doctors, with unwanted consequences for them, for patients and for communities.

The total increase in funding sought for this and a related program is about $1.6 million. That’s not even a rounding error in a budget proposal of $168 billion. It will do almost nothing to make up for the projected deficit of $4.4 billion.

Lawmakers and the governor should restore this funding, if necessary by taking it out of education, which is vastly overfunded for the results it produces.

The main program offers a year’s mentoring for minority students with an interest in becoming doctors but lack the academic standing to enter medical school. The program, funded two years ago at $1.6 million, provides a stipend to students who are coached for a year. They are required to focus on their studies and are not allowed to hold down jobs. It works: Advocates of the program say 95 percent of those who enter the program move on to medical school.

The benefits are significant, and not just to the students who are able to enter an valuable profession. As an article in NEJM Catalyst notes, “Racial health disparities are associated with substantial annual economic losses nationally,” which included $35 billion in excess health care spending, $10 billion in lost productivity and nearly $200 billion in premature deaths.

Research shows that patients have better outcomes, and are more willing to discuss treatment plans when their doctors are of a similar race or ethnicity. And the benefits radiate beyond that, since the new doctors are required to practice for a time in underserved areas.

The current year’s budget already cut the program to $1.24 million from the previous year’s $1.6 million. The governor’s proposed spending plan would further drop funding to $995,000. Backers are asking the governor to restore funding to $1.6 million, which is still notably less than the program received at its maximum funding of $1.96 million.

That requests accounts for just over half what the Associated Medical Schools of New York are asking. The remaining $1 million is for restored and expanded funding of a scholarship program that helps some of these students afford medical school once they get there.

It’s true that Albany needs to restrain its budget. That is true every year in a state with a history of overspending. It is especially true this year. But spending cuts need to be based in part on what will be gained versus the economic cost of reduced support. In this case, the balance is off.

Lawmakers and the governor should restore this funding and find other ways to save $1.6 million.

http://buffalonews.com/2018/03/07/editorial-restore-funding-for-health-program/

 

AMSNY Calls on Legislature to Stop Cuts to Diversity in Medicine Programs

1 in 5 Students from AMSNY Pipeline Programs Won’t Become a Doctor if State Cuts Funding 20%, Hurting Healthcare in NY


(New York, NY) – The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), on behalf of the state’s 16 medical schools, are calling on state legislators to reject a proposed 20% cut to diversity in medicine pipeline programs included in the New York State Executive Budget for FY19.

If enacted, a 20% cut would mean that one in five future AMSNY pipeline students from underrepresented backgrounds would not have the opportunity to become a doctor – a loss that will also be felt by New York’s diverse residents.

New York already has a big diversity gap: underrepresented minorities (Black/African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos) make up approximately 31% of the population but only 12% of the state’s physician workforce, according to data from the SUNY Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies.

This lack of representation has implications for medical care across the state, as research shows that patients who have doctors from similar racial or ethnic backgrounds have better medical experiences. Additionally, physicians from underrepresented minority groups are more likely to practice primary care and practice in low-income and underserved areas.

Having more doctors who represent the great diversity of New York state will further enable us to improve health outcomes, but diversity in medicine programs are consistently on the chopping block,” said Jo Wiederhorn, President and CEO of AMSNY. “We need state legislators to help New York move forward, not backward, in diversifying our physician workforce for the sake of our residents.”

Barriers to a career in medicine prevent many individuals from underrepresented backgrounds from pursuing their dreams of becoming a doctor. Too many students are discouraged by school counselors, or don’t understand the criteria and prerequisites for medical school, find the application process confusing, and see the financial commitment as overwhelmingly daunting.

In order to help prospective doctors overcome these barriers, AMSNY has successfully run diversity in medicine pipeline programs across New York State for 25 years. 95% of students in AMSNY post-collegiate programs have gone on to become doctors. Without these programs, these students would not have been accepted to medical school.

At its height, AMSNY received $1.96M in NYS Department of Health funding for diversity programs. Between FY09 and FY18 the budget had been slowly reduced, due to the recession.  However last year, FY18, the budget was reduced 22.5%, bringing funding to $1.244M.  This necessitated defunding one program completely and reducing the number of students served from 100 in 2009 to 45 in 2018.

The FY19 budget proposes an additional 20% cut, which would be devastating to the operation of pipeline programs, and resulting in an additional one in five students losing the opportunity to become a doctor.

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The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is a consortium of the 16 public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to promote high quality and cost-efficient health care by assuring that the medical schools of New York State can provide outstanding medical education, care and research. The combined total of New York’s medical schools economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion. This means $1 in every $13 in the New York economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information on AMSNY, please visit: www.amsny.org

Contact:

Jaime Williams
 jaime@anatgerstein.com
914-325-8877

Politico NY: Stem cell researchers plead for funding program

By Nick Niedzwiadek

02/05/2018 06:37 PM EDT

ALBANY — Stem cell researchers touted the results of New York’s decade of investment in their work Monday and advocated for a critical funding program’s continued existence.

The New York State Stem Cell Science program, a $600 million initiative, began in 2007 under then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Supporters laud the program for helping New York’s research labs remain competitive nationally, creating new jobs and tax revenue and advancing potentially historic medical research.

“Without NYSTEM, New York will frankly not be taken seriously as a center of stem cell research,” said Susan Solomon, founder and chief executive officer of the New York Stem Cell Foundation.

New York has invested more than $350 million for hundreds of research projects at 39 New York institutions. Part of that money has gone toward training more than 200 new researchers, more than half of whom are now employed throughout the state, bolstering the number of people versed in the highly specialized field.

Advocates are pressuring the state to continue its commitment in part because of past funding issues. In 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomoannounced $36 million in state money, only to delay sending out the awards for months, perplexing researchers and school administrators.

Stem cell research advocates on Monday said the program fills a needed gap between the early-stage research, which the National Institutes of Health is willing to fund, and the promising work that attracts venture capital and biotechnology firms.

“NIH doesn’t fund all kinds of research, and they’re very risk-averse,” said Ruth Lehmann, chair of cell biology at New York University School of Medicine. “NYSTEM has really helped us to fund the high-risk research … that’s really led to the type of rewards you’d want from that high-risk research.”

NYSTEM goes toward research that would struggle to get funded otherwise, they said.

“You have to de-risk it before you can attract venture capital or biotech,” Solomon said.

Stem cell research is among the most promising avenues for finding a cure for such afflictions as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, bone disease and diabetes.

Lorenz Studer, a Parkinson’s researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, has received nearly $24 million in various grants through the program.

“This is a really important time to have the New York funding,” Studer, a 2015 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” said in an interview.

Her funding included a $14.9 million award in 2012 for a research consortium to develop a stem cell-based therapy for Parkinson’s.

Studer was able to parlay his promising work and form a company called BlueRock Therapeutics, which secured $225 million in Series A financing from Versant Ventures and pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG.

He said the company is looking to begin human trials by the end of the year.

“We’re very close to starting,” he said.

Advocates say success stories like Studer’s are key to maintaining support for the program and keeping New York competitive with states like California and Massachusetts, which are awash in both venture capital and the intellectual capital needed to advance stem cell research.

“There’s kind of a joke that February is a wonderful recruiting month for California,” Solomon said. “It’s snowing here and it’s 80 degrees in San Diego.”

To view online:
https://www.politicopro.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/02/05/stem-cell-researchers-plead-for-funding-program-237799