I am impressed with every student at UC Davis School of Medicine. They are engaged in the greater community of UC Davis Health System and beyond, and many are active in advocacy efforts. This week, I want to highlight one student who is already making a difference in health-care leadership and policy, both critical components of advancing health.

Adam Dougherty, a second year medical student, recently won the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation’s 2012 Leadership Award. This award provides special training to develop skills as future leaders in organized medicine and community affairs. As a way of congratulating Adam, I invited him to write a guest blog (as if he doesn’t already have enough to do). 

Adam Dougherty accepts his leadership award.

In the words of medical student Adam Dougherty:

It was an incredible honor to accept this award, and the training I received will benefit me greatly in future endeavors. The efforts and accomplishments of my fellow award recipients were inspiring, and will continue to motivate me as a leader. Since beginning medical school, I have accumulated a number of extracurricular responsibilities, including leadership roles in state and national organized medicine, organizing UC Davis students for the annual Sacramento Lobby Day for the California Universal Health Care Act (many thanks to Dr. Meyers and the Administration for their support and assistance!), writing for the local medical society journal, SSV Medicine, and a recent appointment to the Sacramento County Public Health Advisory Board.

I often get asked the question, “How do you do it all?” Medical school is, in itself, a full-time investment, and while my education is first and foremost, I understand the importance of extra-clinical development. Since obtaining a Master’s degree in Public Health and working for several years in health policy, I recognize that future physicians must take greater roles to educate, empower and lead. In an age of unsustainable growth in health care costs and major structural changes in the American health-care system, it is imperative for physicians to be a part of answering the toughest questions that we face through a combination of clinical perspective and health system governance. Through leadership positions and other streams of communication, I hope to continue to analyze, digest, translate, and steer developments in the increasingly complex health policy world while exposing my classmates and colleagues to the importance of health system reform, health policy, and advocacy.