About the House of Delegates

The House of Delegates (HOD) is truly where AMSA’s members take ownership of the Association. As AMSA’s official policy-making body, the HOD allows representatives from each local medical chapter to meet once a year at the Annual Convention to vote on AMSA’s policies and to elect our national officers. The HOD is open to all members of AMSA to speak and vote. You, AMSA’s members, debate the issues, make the amendments and cast the votes to shape AMSA’s policies. Most importantly, any member of AMSA has the ability to write and submit resolutions to the HOD. We encourage everyone to submit and debate resolutions.

A resolution is a proposed change of AMSA’s policies that is considered by AMSA’s House of Delegates at National Convention. Every member of AMSA can write and submit resolutions to the HOD. Resolutions are a fundamental way in which the members of AMSA express their ownership of the association.


When AMSA members want to change one of AMSA’s policies, they submit a resolution. A resolution is a proposed change of AMSA’s policies that is considered by AMSA’s House of Delegates at National Convention. Every member of AMSA can write and submit resolutions to the HOD. Resolutions are a fundamental way in which the members of AMSA express their ownership of the association. Every member’s voice is heard and anyone can change AMSA.

Resolutions are of vital importance to AMSA because they form the policies in the Preamble, Purposes and Principles (PPP), the official policy document which guides AMSA. The Board of Trustees uses the resolutions passed in the HOD from the previous year as a compass for action in the following year. AMSA’s national leaders use the PPP to prepare and present testimony, lobby Congress or advise other medical groups about the opinions of medical students. Position papers and policy summaries are based on the PPP. AMSA chapters often share the PPP with their deans, medical schools and other local organizations. Your resolutions will play a major role in directing AMSA for years to come.

Types of Resolutions

There are three different types of resolutions:

  1. Constitution & Bylaws
    If members want to change the internal policies governing the way AMSA is structured or operates, they may write a resolution that proposes an amendment to the Constitution or Bylaws. These amendments require five authors and a two-thirds vote to pass in the HOD.
  2. Internal Affairs
    If members want to amend the “IA” section, they may write a resolution of Internal Affairs. These resolutions deal with the details of AMSA’s internal policies and procedures. These resolutions require one author and a majority vote to pass in the HOD. View a sample Internal Affairs amendment.
  3. Preamble, Purposes and Principles (PPP)
    The last type of resolution is the one that most members write, a resolution of Principles. This type of resolution seeks to amend the “Principles” section of the PPP, the section that lists how AMSA members feel about various issues. Members interested in changing our policy on handgun control, for instance, can look through our PPP section on handgun control and write a resolution that spells out exactly how to change this section. These resolutions require one author and a majority vote to pass in the HOD.

Structure of a Resolution

All resolutions must be submitted online. Below are specific pointers on the writing and organization of a resolution, section by section. The resolution is, in general, written as a memo, with the CAPITALIZED topics coming first, and then paragraph form for the Preamble and Operative Clause.

INTRODUCED BY: Name(s) of author(s) of resolution. The authors must be members of AMSA. For constitution amendments, there must be five authors. Only one is needed for other types of resolutions.

SCHOOL: School of author(s). The school(s) of each author(s) needs to be recorded.

SUBJECT: The title of your resolution. It should be appropriate to the action proposed. Examples are “Amendment to the Bylaws Regarding Quorum,” or “Policy Statement on Essential Drugs and Vaccines.”

Types of Resolutions are classified as one of the following:

  1. Constitution or Bylaws Amendment
  2. Resolution of Internal Affairs
  3. Resolution of Principles

Resolutions can be used to create a study group, an ad hoc committee of the BOT or any other change that is deemed necessary to move an issue.

PREAMBLE: This is a concise summary of supporting evidence documenting the need for, feasibility of, or interest in all activities and policy contained in the resolution. The preamble has no specific heading; it simply represents the argument for the action proposed. As such, effective preambles are brief, to the point and cite relevant references when necessary (please include all references at the end of the resolution). Inappropriate preambles are those that are excessively long; contain inflammatory language; and make bold assertions of fact without referenced support. The preamble should contain no specific language for action, though it may cite relevant language from the PPP.

OPERATIVE CLAUSE: This clause contains the specific action recommended and includes the exact language to be included in the PPP. There should be a line separating the preamble from this clause. By tradition, ALL OPERATIVE CLAUSES BEGIN WITH THE WORDS, “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED.” The clause should specifically state where the language should be included in the PPP. The clause should not refer to the preamble, which will not go into the PPP; it’s freestanding. Any specific deletions of the PPP may be accomplished by simply asking for deletion of the relevant section. However, if only certain words are to be changed then the clause should recommend a change to the new wording. When wording is changed or added, please include the WHOLE SECTION changed, not just the words changed. If you’re suggesting additional “BE IT RESOLVED” clauses, begin them as follows: “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT…” Also, see the sample resolutions.

A fiscal note must be included at the end of the resolution if the proposed amendment or resolution will require a financial commitment from AMSA. The fiscal note estimates the cost to the organization. It often requires contacting the national office to determine operating expenses.

The process for writing a resolution is vital to AMSA and we encourage you to seek help with any questions you might have about the process or the specific formatting. The best contacts are the Vice President for Internal Affairs and National Secretary. We are eager to hear from you and guide you through this important process.

What happens next?

  • Public Comment
    After the resolutions deadline, the Vice President of Internal Affairs (VPIA) will review the resolutions. Resolutions submitted by Active AMSA members which are compliant with the structure and content requirements will be posted for viewing.
  • Open Testimony
    After members have had a chance to review and prepare testimony on the resolutions, members bring their testimony to the Reference Committee during open sessions at Convention.
  • Reference Committee Review
    The Reference Committee will review the resolutions and comments, and will submit their recommendations to the VPIA. The Reference Committee combines testimony of members (through open sessions) with current AMSA policy and synthesize an appropriate recommendation to present to the House of Delegates (HOD).
    Reference Committee recommendations will be posted online
  • Voting
    Voting will take place at the HOD Resolutions Session of AMSA’s Annual Convention. At Convention, there will be a chance for extraction. Extraction is the debate of a resolution and its recommendations. Members interested in extracting a resolution must inform the Credentialing Committee and VPIA at Convention.
    All non-extracted resolutions will be voted on in block by registered delegates. All extracted resolutions will be discussed and voted upon individually.
  • Results
    The results of all voting will be posted online within one week of Convention. Passed resolutions will be incorporated into AMSA’s governing documents by the end of March.

Three committees ensure the smooth functioning of the HOD and national officer elections: the Reference, Nominations and Credentials Committees. These committees are an excellent way for AMSA members to get involved nationally. AMSA depends on committed members to serve on these committees and to help the HOD function smoothly. Any active member of AMSA may apply to serve on the Credentials and/or Nomination Committees.


Our delegates are our policy makers: they vote on the policies that define what AMSA is and what it stands for. It is crucial for each chapter to raise its voice in the House–this voice is the real ownership and heart of our Association.


AMSA depends on dedicated student leaders to devote their extracurricular time and energy on their responsibilities as national leaders. Each leadership position varies greatly with respect to responsibility, time commitment and previous experience required. However, each requires a good working knowledge of our organization, dedication and excitement for AMSA.


Your Guide to the House of Delegates

We encourage you to review the following videos for a better understanding of how the AMSA House of Delegates works. Please disregard any mention of past dates and/or locations.