David Savage, a fourth-year MD/PhD student, recently bested the competition in a three-way race to be elected the American Medical Association Speaker of the Governing Council for the AMA Medical Student Section (MSS).

There are eight members of the Governing Council who work with the AMA staff to lead the 50,000 membered student section of the AMA. The term of this national office is from June 2012–June 2013, and as speaker, Savage will work with AMA staff and the vice speaker to plan and run the next two national meetings in Honolulu in November 2012, and Chicago in June 2013.

“This includes finding a keynote speaker, working with other student leaders to plan educational programming, and running the policy business meeting as the parliamentarian. I will also attend the MSS Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., next February,” Savage explains.

There has not been Medical School representation on the AMA-MSS Governing Council for the past four years.

“I get the impression that it’s been a long time since we’ve had a UT-Houston student on the GC,” Savage said. “I have met a few older physicians and UT-Houston alums in the Texas Medical Association who did serve on it many years ago. The most recent Texan on the national GC was a student from Baylor College of Medicine who was the student Trustee in 2010–2011.”

Savage said he had a little help from his friends on the election front.

“My election was helped immensely by a strong letter of support and election campaign funding provided generously by the TMA. Additionally, my UT-Houston colleagues—especially Bill Doetsch, Mark Cooper, and Sandra Iacob—gave up precious time in Chicago to help me campaign and reach out to the 600-plus student attendees at the national meeting,” he said.

Savage works with Drs. Steve Curley and Rita Serda in surgical oncology and nanomedicine at MD Anderson and The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, respectively. Following graduation, he will seek residency in medicine and fellowship training in oncology.

He said this leadership role with the AMA will help enhance his organizational skills and refine his speaking skills.

“I want medical advocacy and politics to be an integral part of my lifelong career as a physician, and this position is an additional step in my preparation,” he said. “The career network I have built with students, residents, and physicians nationwide the past three years will also be invaluable to my future aspirations in medicine and advocacy.”

The AMA has provided support not only to students but to the school, Savage said.

“I have seen firsthand the limitless opportunities for leadership training, community service, advocacy, and career networking within the AMA during the past three years. Our school has even benefited from several thousand dollars in AMA funding for community service in Houston during that time, and we are set to get more this year,” he said. “This is the only student organization that stays with us throughout our careers, and the return value on membership is incredible. I hope my membership testimonial will encourage other UT-Houston students to join!”

— Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School