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By: Dana Ferrari, MPH, OMS-III
A.T .Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona

After a grueling summer full of studying and stressing over Step 1/Level 1 board exams, I was excited to travel to Washington, DC to begin my Osteopathic Health Policy Internship (OHPI) at AACOM. I was eager to learn more about health policy and how it impacts osteopathic medical education and medical students, osteopathic physicians, patients, and the health care system as a whole.

The AACOM Government Relations (GR) department had already taken steps prior to my arrival to ensure that I would have a fulfilling, meaningful internship experience–my OHPI internship schedule was already almost packed! In the first few days alone, I attended a meeting of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse (NACDA) at the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH), met with AACOM President and CEO Dr. Stephen C. Shannon to brainstorm ideas for my OHPI policy research paper, and participated in AACOM GR day-to-day activities. Before I could blink, my first week as an OHPI was already complete!

My daily responsibilities as an OHPI included drafting information alerts, briefs, and federal funding opportunity announcements for AACOM, all of which has greatly helped me understand the inner workings of health policy development and implementation. Attending policy events, including those hosted by the National Journal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), as well as attending legislative briefings on Capitol Hill and federal agency meetings, has all helped to strengthen both my networking skills and my knowledge of the current state of health care reform.

Although all of the opportunities that are granted to an OHPI are noteworthy and exciting, I believe that the most influential time of my internship came on October 1, 2013. On this day, two things occurred – the federal government entered a 16-day shutdown period and the health insurance exchanges initiated by the Affordable Care Act were launched. Both of these events had - and will continue to have - a substantial impact on health care policy and delivery. It was an extraordinary time to be in Washington, DC, and I learned even more about the legislative process in the days preceding and following the shutdown.

The Osteopathic Health Policy Internship is an incredible experience for any osteopathic medical student interested in health policy, health care reform, public health, and/or advocacy. This internship is also a great fit for students who desire a deeper understanding of the operation, scope, and principles of the federal government (myself, included). I cannot thank AACOM enough for the tremendous educational opportunity that they provide through the OHPI Program. I am confident that the knowledge and tools that I have gained here in Washington, DC as an OHPI will greatly impact and enhance my future career as an osteopathic physician.

Please feel free to contact Ms. Ferrari with specific questions about her OHPI experience at dferrari7@gmail.com.

Inside OME Header
October 2013
Vol. 7, No. 10