Matthew Rudy is only a second-year medical student at the Medical College of Georgia, but he will soon have quite a following -- about 70,000 strong.
Mr. Rudy, 23, is the national chairman-elect of the Organization of Student Representatives, which represents all 70,000 medical students before the Association of American Medical Colleges. He will assume the position in November during the annual meeting.
"It helps (the AAMC) stay abreast of what is occurring in the medical schools from the medical student perspective," Ally Anderson, the manager of student and community service programs, said of the student group. "What they do is they provide more breadth of knowledge concerning those issues."
Mr. Rudy, an Augusta native, said he and another MCG student took their concerns to a national meeting last month and found they were on familiar ground with other students.
"Those were the same issues which people nationally were concerned about, whether that's increasing the number of physicians, increasing the number of medical school spots and opportunities," he said. "Tuition was one and help with people choosing what they want to practice."
That's one reason why he wants to increase interaction with another AAMC group, the Organization of Resident Representatives.
"Those are leaders that are in the next step of their education from where we are," Mr. Rudy said. "Medical school is a tough time to figure out what you want to do. It's a chance for us to talk to people who are doing the things we might be potentially interested in, to learn from them both about choosing a specialty and then about any changes in that specialty."
Medical student debt is another big issue, and fears of not being able to pay off that burden could be driving future physicians away from choosing needed primary care positions, he said.
"Even at a state-supported school, the federal government's assistance isn't enough to take care of students," Mr. Rudy said. "And that's enough of a deterrent for someone to want to practice something other than primary care medicine."
Just making students aware of debt repayment options is another goal.
"There's just increasing options," Mr. Rudy said. "Students are so overwhelmed with studying sometimes, they don't know those exist. And they would love to practice primary care if they just knew they'd be taken care of."
The chairman position is a three-year commitment, serving as chairman-elect, chairman and then past-chairman. Mr. Rudy said he will be relying on help from fellow students, officers and MCG faculty to make it through.
"I'm not foolish enough to think that I can do all of this without help and advice," he said.
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
POSITION: Chairman-elect of the Organization of Student Representatives for the Association of American Medical Colleges, president of Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine Class of 2010
EDUCATION: In second year at MCG School of Medicine; bachelor of science with honors in biochemistry, University of Georgia; 2002 graduate of Lakeside High School
FAMILY: Parents, Greg and Susan Rudy; brother, Mark