It is my great honor to serve as your 15th National APAMSA President. The Asian Pacific American Medical Students Association (APAMSA) was founded in 1995 by Dr. Bi Li as the first national organization representing Asian Pacific American (APA) medical students. APAMSA initially served and today continues to serve as a forum for communication with fellow medical students, physicians, and community members; and provides a collective voice to promote awareness in health issues that affect the APA community.

During the past 14 years, APAMSA has grown rapidly in number and in strength with over 15,000 members and over 90 chapters. We have also hosted fifteen national conferences, many regional conferences, and three national Hepatitis B conferences. Currently, we organize national service projects, such as the Hepatitis B Project and the Bone Marrow Drive. Our mission is to promote the health and well-being of the APA community locally and nationally, and our members helped carry out this mission in 2008 by registering a thousand new bone marrow donors, organizing thousands of community health fairs, screening and immunizing hundreds of patients against Hepatitis B, and coordinating discussions with fellow healthcare members about diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cancers in the APA community.

This year promises to be a turning point in our nationÂ’s history with renewed energy, excitement, and a promise from the government to focus on issues that affect APAs. As APAMSA members, we must take the responsibility as future healthcare professionals to bring issues that affect our communities and ourselves to the limelight.

The “2009 APAMSA Forefront Issues” include:

  1. Health Advocacy: APAMSA will launch a Health Policy Initiative to advocate for legislation and government policies that will benefit the health and well-being of APAs.
  2. International Medicine: To concentrate on the growing interest in international medicine, APAMSA will coordinate opportunities to volunteer abroad with medical and surgical missions.
  3. Medical Education: To address the cultural factors influencing APA medical student performance during clinical years and to tackle the increasing financial burden of medical school education, APAMSA will establish creative learning tools and resources to help with clinical rotations and seek scholarship opportunities to reduce the financial debt.
  4. Cancer in APAs: Finally, APAs are the only ethnic population to experience cancer as the leading cause of death. However, to a certain extent, the cancer burden for APAs can be minimized if cultural and financial barriers are overcome. Because of the low utilization of screening tests, APAMSA will reach out to our APA communities to emphasize the importance of preventive screenings with our National Cancer Initiative.

The 2009 National APAMSA Board has already begun to create change. We offered the first annual USMLE Rx Step 1 and 2 Q-bank Scholarships for APAMSA members in financial and academic need, we organized a web-cast session with Tao Le, author of First AID for advice on USMLE Step 1 and clinical rotations, and we participated in the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s National Day of Service with the Gift of Hope Campaign, the first coordinated national APAMSA service day with the help of celebrities, such as Yul Kwan from Survivor and former Governor Gary Locke to recruit bone marrow donors. And believe it or not, but this is just the beginning! There is still much more work needed to strengthen the APAMSA and APA communities. I call for each member and each chapter to become advocates and leaders for our communities and to help expand and transform APAMSA.

I commend and thank each APAMSA individual and chapter for your past work and dedication to this organization. I invite all of you to attend APAMSA’s largest event, the national conference which will be hosted by UCLA on October 9-11, 2009. This year’s theme will be Transforming Medicine: A Challenge for Future Leaders, which will allow us to discuss the best approach to develop new ideas and reach critical decisions of our time.

As always, please feel free to contact me with comments, questions, or suggestions at any time. I look forward to meeting with you at one of our many local chapter or regional events and at the APAMSA National Conference in Los Angeles.


Shelly S. Choo
APAMSA National President

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