Medical Student Advocacy

Ajay Major is a self-described “medical student activist” and founder/co-editor in chief of In this conversation, Ajay shares how he found his activist side, his goals for in-Training, and his view on the future of medicine. Ajay represents a small but potentially influential segment of the new generation of physicians currently in training.


Announcer: These are the conversations happening inside health care that are going to transform healthcare. The Health Care Insider is on The Scope.

Major: My name is Ajay Major. I am a second year medical student at Albany Medical College and I am the founder and editor in chief of in-Training, the online magazine for medical students.

Host: You have an MBA. You are a medical student and you define yourself as a medical student activist. Tell me about that.

Major: My MBA actually was a part of an eight year combined degree program with Union College and Albany Medical College. It's a BS-MBA-MD program called "Leadership in Medicine" program. So when I applied for that program and matriculated to Union College, part of that experience for me was really learning and having a good foundation in healthcare management and the leadership in medicine in order to go forward from there.

I found my activism side has been a new discovery as I have entered medical school. I work a lot with single payer health care. I work with underserved populations, and for me, having some of those skill sets, to be able to talk, to write, and to be able to actively engage those communities is really what has kind of struck me about activism.

Host: So tell us about in-Training and how in-Training fits into this process and your goals.

Major: In-Training actually was born out of me and my co-editor-in-chief finding a lack of forum for medical students to express their unique voice. A lot of the forums for medical student are overseen by other, either physicians or other health professionals. So there really hasn't been a legitimate voice for us to express amongst ourselves and that's why in-Training is run entirely by medical students and our editorial board is all medical students. It's by medical students for medical students.

So what it has served as and it's been kind of an organic process that has developed over this now 15-16 months we've been online, is creating a space for medical students to talk about the things that we've always wanted to talk about. Talking about humanism in medicine, talking about stress, talking about fatigue, talking about what the medical student experience is like. Everything from policy to advocacy to recipes they like to cook on the weekend, it really runs the gamut but it's a place for us to talk about that amongst friends and amongst peers.

Host: Why do you feel it's important for medical students to be engaged in these kind of conversations and talking about these topics?

Major:  I think what it comes down to is, we are, I'm sure as many people at this conference will agree with, we are the people who are going to become the future generations of medicine, and to not have a say in that process and in the process of how we are educated and how we are exposed slowly to this idea of a career in medicine, in my view, it's kind of an atrocity that we haven't been so involved in that process in the past. And now being able to be engaged and informed and being able to contribute to that dialogue about how we want to be educated and how we want to affect the future, the future of the profession and of course our patients, I think that is just so paramount and so in-Training is kind of a step in that direction.

Interviewer: What are the priorities that you see entering your career that you hope to have a hand in shaping?

Major: For me, it's the structural problems that we have in healthcare that are so important. We need to really start to work on the structure of medicine, the structure of medical education, what are barriers that we have in order to provide better for our patients, and to provide better for students and allow teachers and students to work better and more collaboratively. So for me, the individual is something that we talk about a lot, but being able to see what kind of changes we can make on a larger level either through policy or what have you in order to meet those ends is really what I see. It's more a big picture view.

That why building collaborative relationships through in-Training is so important because we kind of have to form a conglomerate in order to get that power and that voice in order to really make some big changes to the field.

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