By Vi Song Tring, OMS-IV 
Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine 

December 2010

The AACOM Osteopathic Health Policy Intern (OHPI) Program is a two-month full immersion into the fast-paced realm of health policy in Washington, DC. The experience provided an insightful glimpse into the culture and multidisciplinary aspect of government relations within the scope of osteopathic medical education.

During the first week of the program, I had the opportunity to experience first-hand the latest developments in academic medical education at the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) 2010 Annual Meeting. It was an excellent opportunity to meet many brilliant researchers studying physician work force issues and hear U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explain how she intends to work with medical colleges and hospitals to advance our nation’s health care system.

The following weeks revolved around the 2010 mid-term elections, during which I found myself traveling to different corners of our nation’s capital to hear predictions on the 112th U.S. Congress’ stance on health care and medical education. The uncertainty of tomorrow was unnerving at times, but it was amazing to see medical special interest groups banding together within well-established coalitions prepared to stress to Congress and the American public the importance of maintaining funds for Title VII health professions programs.

Besides attending a number of meetings held by federal agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and HHS, and others held by various coalitions and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), I also participated in the 2010 Health Policy Fellowship Seminar meeting hosted by AACOM. The osteopathic physicians in this year’s fellowship class, from across the country, attended a three-day conference featuring notable speakers from various federal agencies as well as public and private health care-related organizations. The speakers answered a wide variety of questions from fellows regarding health policy and current health care reform implementation.

Amidst the hectic schedule, I also managed to fulfill a key component of my experience as an OHPI by completing work on my chosen research project. I have spent time investigating the process in which medical students choose a specialty to pursue in order to discern whether the recently enacted Affordable Care Act will encourage more medical students to pursue a career in primary care. The study will gauge how fourth-year medical students truly feel about the effect of health care reform on the future of primary care medicine. 

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