By: Clare Crosh, OMS-IV
Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern University
AACOM’s Osteopathic Health Policy Internship (OHPI) Program has not only changed the way I view politics and health policy, but the way I view my future career. Going into this internship, I already knew that it was very important for physicians to be active in the legislative process. As I have reached the end of this program, I now realize how significant it is to continue to stay involved. It is necessary to be involved not only as an osteopathic medical student, but also as a physician. I have learned that the impact federal legislation and regulation has on physicians necessitates a working relationship between Congress and physicians. This experience has solidified my resolve to become more involved in health care policy for the years to come, whether it is by advocating on behalf of my profession or perhaps one day even running for political office.
My time in D.C. has strengthened my interest in primary care. Of the many events I was able to attend, I was lucky enough to attend the Primary Care Organizations Consortium (PCOC) in March where the future of primary care in the United States was discussed. A number of exciting research and initiatives have been in progress, making me very hopeful for the future of primary care. Additionally, I was in D.C. during budget and appropriations season and was able to attend a number of meetings and hearings on Capitol Hill. Of the many policy events and briefings I was able to attend, it was thrilling to see outgoing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testify before a House committee about the Affordable Care Act; attend a Senate hearing about the amount of debt being incurred by students in the U.S.; and seeing the Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, testify before a House committee. At these meetings, I gained insight into how the political process really works, and the give and take (or lack thereof) that takes place every day.
In addition, another interesting meeting I attended was the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Geriatrics and Gerontology Advisory Committee, where discussions regarding changes implemented in legislation and funding took place. Through this meeting, I gained insight into the importance of such federal advisory committees and the impact they potentially have in changing policy.
It was also exciting to be in D.C. during the states’ implementation of the Affordable Care Act; this was a historic time in the health care arena. Moreover, I was present during the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) negotiations in Congress regarding a permanent repeal, versus ongoing temporary patches. Though the end result was that SGR was temporarily patched for another year, it was exciting to witness the events throughout the process.
I strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in health policy apply to this program. These two months in D.C. were perhaps the most important during my medical education. The experiences and tools I gained from the OHPI Program are those I will carry for life, and will enhance the future advocacy and participation in the health policy work that I plan to do.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions at email@example.com.