Since my first year of medical school, I have been involved in organized medicine through my state medical society, the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA), as well as the American Medical Association (AMA). I’ve participated on task forces, committees, and executive leadership and councils. Consequently, I am acutely aware of the growing importance of organized medicine in a dynamically changing health care environment and in a rapidly evolving scientific medical field. Physicians need to be informed of not only the clinical problems that our patients experience, but the social and economic challenges they face as well. And more importantly, physicians need to be proactive in advocating for changes that improve the patient-physician relationship and changes that lead to positive patient outcomes. In the absence of physicians’ voice in the political discourse and dialogue, only the special interests of pharmaceutical companies, lobbying groups, and insurance companies will be represented in policies that not only affect doctors but their patients in severely adverse ways.
I count my participation in the OSMA and AMA as one of the most important defining experiences in my medical school career. I was able to meet inspiring and incredible people who I admired for their intellect as well as their authenticity and compassion. I was able to learn about and contribute to the conversation surrounding health care and the practice of medicine in the United States. In short, I was able to grow and mature as a physician in training in ways that I could not have through standard medical education curricula alone.
And during my time in the OSMA and AMA, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak to my colleagues in the Medical Student Section in a public forum, and it has been undoubtedly one of the greatest privileges I’ve been granted in my life. It was something I truly enjoyed not because I had the opportunity to hear myself speak (though, I do like hearing myself speak, I think I have a nice sounding voice — joking, of course!), but because it afforded me the opportunity to reflect on myself and write earnestly, truthfully, and passionately. It gave me an opportunity to put into words what I felt in my heart and breath these words into life with my voice. I’ve run for 2 national positions and lost, but looking back on those instances, I don’t remember that I didn’t get the most number of votes — I remember that I got to tell everyone what I truly thought and felt in my heart of hearts and in the depths of my soul. I’m proud that I took that chance regardless of the outcome and I cherish those moments. Here are my speech notes and transcripts for my recorded messages. I standby not just the words that are written here, but more importantly, the sentiment that they represent. -GP
AMA Interim 2016 — Medical Student Section Chair Election Speech Notes
I’d like to thank all of you for the opportunity to address the assembly because first and foremost, I stand here not out of my own ability, but in my sincere belief in the greatness that is inherent in all of you and what we will be able to accomplish together.
The MSS is the heart and conscience of the AMA and we choose to invest ourselves, not because the AMA is an organization that reflects all of our individual beliefs and values but because it is an organization where our voice and participation can make an appreciable impact; where our differences do not overshadow our principles; where what divides us is petty in comparison to our shared commitment to the health of our patients and the population. We embody the axioms that compromising our positions is not compromising our morals; that debate is not equivalent to demonization; that differences in opinion are not differences in character or quality.
We are the future of medicine, and now, more than ever, we need to serve as a light that guides the world. And in my heart of hearts, I know that everyone in this room aspires toward that goal. Regardless of our disagreements, regardless of our differences, regardless of all the forces and factors that society says should make me think otherwise, I have no doubts that all of us have revealed our passions and exposed our souls in our time here, And it is for this reason that I ask all of you for the privilege of raising all of you up to be that light. I am asking all of you to share with me your pain and frustration, your desires, and goals so that I can help you be that light because when I look out at the assembly, I can’t help but see a goodness that the world desperately needs.
I hope that after meeting with me and hearing me speak that you will trust me with the responsibility of chair-elect to more directly help guide the future of the AMA-MSS. But I promise that whether or not I am elected to chair-elect, I will always be invested in you — in the individual members. There are some things you can’t take back, but I’ve given my heart to this cause and I have no regrets about doing so.
AMA Annual 2017 — MSS Speaker Election Speech Notes
To all of my friends, colleagues, and future peers, I’d like to thank all of you for the opportunity to again address all of you and I stand here now to uphold a promise that I made 7 months ago — that I will always care about what you believe in, what’s important to you, what principles guide you, and how you want your involvement to ultimately do some good in the world.
But I’m also here to make a new promise — A promise that regardless of my beliefs I will work tirelessly to be fair, just, and kind to all of you, and weigh equally and reasonably what you have to say, and make sure that no one regardless of position or standing silences what should be, ought to be, and needs to be heard– your reason for medicine. In running for Speaker I am asking for the opportunity to recognize each and every one of you in front of the entire MSS when you stand to defend your most deeply held beliefs and strongest convictions
I am here to say this: believe in yourself and be loyal to each other. We are important, and what we are doing here is necessary. Our society yearns for leadership and guidance from those with a true sense of compassion and empathy. Our country and community thirsts for a political discourse and dialogue centered around patient care and positive outcomes rather than political partisanship. So who better than us? Who better than those that truly understand another person’s pain? Who better than those that deal with death and dying every day? Who better than those who must bear witness to those most affected by these policies and most forgotten by politics? Who better than the future of medicine?
As Speaker, I want to help us to celebrate who and what we are; to aspire to what we could be and what we should be; to never settle for how the world is but to shape the world into what it should be; to achieve what many will say is impossible, but what I know in my heart of hearts has always been within our reach because this is what the world needs us to do and who the world needs us to be.
Transcript for Recorded Message #1 — May 13, 2017
All of us embarked on this journey to become physicians because we wanted to help people; because we wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives; because we saw the agony in the world around us and we chose a profession that we felt most directly and immediately relieves that suffering. Yet the irony of that decision is that in our medical school careers, we have so few opportunities to prove those motivations. It can be demoralizing to flip through power points rather than actualize our most deep-seated principles. It can be fatiguing to sit through hours of lecture instead of upholding our most deeply held beliefs. It can feel like a drought in a desert and it can drain your vitality.
But through this grayness, I consider myself forever fortunate to meet others like myself from all over the country; others who continue to be passionately determined to make a lasting impact in people’s lives even as students. Through the sheer force of will, the hot flames of our ambitions, and the blinding light of our beliefs, I know that all of us as an MSS have already actualized our ambitions. As the MSS, our principles are articulated as whole to all of medicine as the position of medical students everywhere — from coast to coast, city to city, crossing state lines and partisan lines. And though its arc may be small, the discourse and dialogue of medicine unmistakably and inexorably bends with the policies we expound in unison.
During my time in the AMA-MSS, I can honestly say that I’ve never met a group of people more incredible than all of you and I truly believe that the world should know who we are and the views we share. For all of you, from the loudest to the quietest, from today or years past, from face to face or written words, I hear your voice. The story you want to tell, the beliefs you want to prove, the motivations that drive you, I hear all of it. I am asking all of you to consider me as your next Speaker because I hear all of you. And it is only when the rich, diverse, colorful, and vibrant perspectives of all of the members of our MSS is represented; only when every student’s voice is heard can our policies and positions truly represent the views of medical students.
Months ago, I made a promise to all of you to be invested in the individual members of the AMA-MSS, and in running for Speaker, I am reaffirming that promise as well as making a new promise, whatever the outcome may be. Regardless of my beliefs, I promise that I will work tirelessly to be fair, just, and kind to all of you, and weigh equally and reasonably what you have to say, and make sure that no one regardless of position or standing silences what should be, ought to be, and needs to be heard– your reason for medicine.
Transcript for Recorded Message #2 — May 14, 2017
The reason I would be effective as Speaker is because I understand why it is that we respect the policies that our body passes regardless if we disagree with it in principle. I understand why we accept the fate of our painstakingly researched and authored resolutions even if it is far less than what we had hoped or prayed. I understand why despite our differences we are still able to civilly but passionately engage in heated discussion and debate.
Though I know them well, it isn’t because of the parliamentary rules we abide by. It is the spirit by which we apply these rules. It is a spirit that demands that our perspectives and opinions, our beliefs and principles, our passions and hopes are treated fairly, justly, and equally. A spirit that asks us to observe a shared etiquette and extend a shared courtesy to each other. A spirit that challenges us to hold each other in the highest esteem, reverence, and respect even when our views and beliefs are directly opposed.
It is a spirit that requests the same of all of us: believe in yourselves and be loyal to each other. We have struggled and fought together through so many obstacles and persevered through too much adversity to not share this feeling.
We were with each other through all of it. We struggled together as we attempted to fundraise and organize trips to meetings in our local chapter. We persevered through the frustrations of coordinating and communicating with other medical schools within our own state and region to pass resolutions and prepare for new initiatives. We stood shoulder to shoulder to defend the resolutions of our colleagues against the scathing criticisms and comments of our superiors. Though absent physically, we were all there together and we know the challenges we’ve all faced separately.
It is for this reason that I humbly ask all of you for the chance to be Speaker. I know what you’ve been through to get here. I know the sacrifices you’ve made. I know how hard it’s been. And I know that all of it was for the chance to make your voice heard on a stage and setting that matters. So let me be the one that makes sure you get what is justly and deservedly yours. Let me be the one that gives you your time to make your beliefs known to all of us. And I will make sure that you will be treated in a way that recognizes everything you’ve done up to that point.
Transcript for Recorded Message #3 — May 25, 2017
Hello everyone, my name is Gabriel Pham and as you already know, I am running for AMA-MSS Speaker. However, I must reiterate that I am not running for the title, I’m not running for the prestige, and I’m not running to appease my own ego.
I am running for you. I am running because I believe in what we are all capable of doing as a group. I am running because I believe I have the skills and the ability to help you actualize your dreams and ambitions — to help you make your time in the AMA-MSS worthwhile and mean something. To give your time here the same meaning it has meant to me. To guide you in the same way that I was guided. And to help you mature and grow in the same way that I have matured and grown in this journey — every single day.
Congratulations to the m4s for graduating. Your example has always served as a guide for me in my medical school career. As new graduates, my optimism for what you will achieve in your careers soars. I can’t wait to see what you guys will do and I can’t even imagine how excited you must be in embarking on the rest of your life — on training and working with patients in a way that speaks to your soul and lights the fire in your heart. As you start the next chapter of your lives, I hope you all know that you will continue to be my role models and the work you do will continue to be the ideal I aspire to.
To my fellow m3s, we have always leaned on, relied on, and confided in each other through turmoil, strife and struggle. This year has been the most exciting but also the most trying time of our careers thus far. For some of us, there is certainty in our desired path, while for others there is still searching and reflecting on what we will commit ourselves to. But all of us will struggle with the uncertainty and unknown of where we will go, what will we be doing, and who will we be there in the next phase of our lives. But all of us, without a doubt, have grown and matured at lightspeed and beyond our years during our first experiences taking care of people, seeing true suffering and pain, experiencing loss, dealing with struggle, and fighting despair, both our own and that of others. But we emerged stronger, better, more rounded, and more prepared to face any obstacle and challenge that faces us, both in the near term and far.
To m2s, I know the challenge you face and I know how monumental a single moment can feel, but I plead with you to remember that this is a single moment in your life. It is a snapshot that should not, could not, and will not ever define your ability and what you will be able to achieve. As a student, as a resident, as a physician, and as a person, your measure will not be quantified with a number on a paper but by the number of people whose lives you have impacted and touched. Know that everyone recognizes that medicine doesn’t need test-takers but care takers, and not high scores but high mindedness. And know that after this moment, those above you, myself included, will work tirelessly to light the way for you and to ensure that none of you stumble in confusion and darkness but find your calling and passion in the light we blaze with our own paths.
To m1s, all I can say is that medical school is incredibly difficult but it is incredibly rewarding and one of the best times of my life — including the good and the bad. But if there is one message I could tell myself as an m1 it would be, “please don’t let life pass you by.” Undoubtedly I did not take advantage of every clinical or professional opportunity that was offered to me but that’s not what my heart remembers. I’ll always remember the times where I chose work over friends, I chose research over adventure, I chose studying over family. Work hard, study hard, do great research, our patients and society as a whole will depend on it. But don’t forget and lose yourself in the process; be careful in medicine, you can get lost in it, drown in it, suffocate in it. I’ll always regret the friends I didn’t make, the opportunities with people that I let pass by, the relationships that I didn’t form and explore until it was too late. Time will be your most precious commodity, spend it wisely. The performances I missed out on, the long talks that never happened, the nights getting lost in thought with like minded thinkers, the adventures that were never had with a kindred spirit — those are just as critical to medicine as medical knowledge. These are what make you a whole and complete person. A person that is able to consider and care for another person, to be compassionate in their care, and to empathize with their environment.
So to all of you within the AMA-MSS and in truth for all medical students everywhere, I care about you, and I know what you are going through, and I wish so much for you to have the best and brightest future possible. And I sincerely hope you’ll give me the opportunity to be your speaker so that I can recognize that for you in front of the entire MSS when you stand to defend your most deeply held beliefs and strongest convictions. And more than anything, know that although we may disagree, everyone, all of us within the MSS supports you and believes in what you are trying to do.
Transcript for Recorded Message #4 — June 2, 2017
Hello every one, my name is Gabriel Pham and I am running for Speaker of the AMA-MSS. Thus far I have only spoken on why I am running for Speaker, why I care so deeply about the MSS, and why you should grant me the privilege of serving as your Speaker. But part of being a leader means having a vision — an idea for what the MSS should look like, what we should aspire to, and how we can get there.
As your Speaker, I again promise that I will work tirelessly to be fair, just, and kind to all of you, and weigh equally and reasonably what you have to say,. I will make it my responsibility and duty to make sure all of you are heard, that your school is represented, and that your vote counts.
Undoubtedly there will be growing pains, learning curves, and episodes of trial and error, but there are 3 goals that I will work towards that I know will make your reason for medicine echo louder than ever
First, I promise not to rule by parliamentary procedure but guide by parliamentary procedure; not to conduct business by technical procedure by but the essence of procedure; not to issue rulings rigidly but to account for nuance and subtlety in my decisions. As a committee member for parliamentary procedure, I understand better than most the need for rules and procedure to facilitate orderly discussion. But the merit and value of parliamentary rules is completely lost if we focus discussion on words and definitions rather than beliefs and ideas, if we force through votes rather than force each other to engage in dialogue, and if we dwell on grammar and semantics rather than diving into essence and substance. Ceremony and tradition are undoubtedly important, but I am unafraid to break from past if it means that you can better defend and articulate your principles. I’m not scared to do the unorthodox if I feel that the discourse of our body is being subdued and chained by technical proceedings.
Second, in advocating for a more inclusive MSS that listens to all of its members, that recognizes all of the schools represented and celebrates the diversity of all its students, I will also make sure that we are accountable to each other. The convention committees that count your votes, that present your amendments and resolutions, that form the backbone and engine of how our meetings are run must necessarily have its members reflect that same breadth, depth, and diversity of all of the MSS. Our convention committees must be composed of members that reflect the different philosophies of medicine, the geographic variation we originate from, and the different cultural lenses we view issues through. All of the members of the MSS should be able to find a committee member whose ideas align and coincide with their own. All of the members of the MSS should be able to identify one of their own that they can hold accountable. And all of the committee members should be able to have a group of colleagues that they feel responsible for.
Third, in serving as your Speaker, I make clear my dedication, trust, and belief in all of you, but in return I ask that you reward my faith — make me know that I wasn’t wrong in believing in your guys. Make me know that what I know of your potential is a gross underestimation of what you are truly capable of. A leader is nothing without those who leads and I cannot achieve my goals as Speaker without your continued dedication, perseverance, and deep-seated belief in the power of organized medicine and the need for physicians, residents, and medical students to participate in policy-making.
By making these 3 issues my priority, I am not intending to transform the MSS. Nor do I believe that achieving these 3 alone will miraculously resolve all of our disagreements and misgivings. But I firmly believe that these are the first steps towards creating body that is greater than the sum of its parts. And I hope that you will give me the opportunity to pursue these missions as your next Speaker.