By Tara Blalock, AuD, OMS IV
Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine
My time as an AACOM Osteopathic Health Policy Intern (OHPI) can be summed up in one word - motivational! Coming into this internship, I was expecting to learn about health policy and how it will allow me to be a better advocate for medical students and the osteopathic profession. I can say that this internship exceeded my expectations. Not only did I learn about policy and advocacy, but I learned many lessons that will help me to become a better physician, as well.
It is widely known that physicians live very busy, demanding lives. However, after this internship, I can say that the AACOM Government Relations (GR) team hold themselves to the same productivity level as a physician. My time at AACOM was an eventful one, making time management a trait that I had to quickly master, as well as prioritizing. Between meetings on Capitol Hill, at the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration, or with the Department of Veteran Affairs, making use of every minute of every day was important.
As mentioned earlier, my time as an OHPI was an eventful one, not only within the osteopathic profession as the AOA House of Delegates voted on a Unified Accreditation System for Graduate Medical Education, but nationally as well, with the release of the much-awaited Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Governance and Finance of Graduate Medical Education (GME) Report. I was able to witness both of these pivotal and transformational events pertaining to GME and feel that I have a better understanding of the political process it takes to make change occur within medical education and the US health care system. I was also able to see the rush before Congress leaving for recess in August when everyone in Washington, DC, is working night and day to turn bills into policy!
I was fortunate to have many phenomenal experiences as an OHPI, but the most important experiences came from my mentors at AACOM. Although life in GR is very demanding, the GR team at AACOM made themselves very accessible to me and offered ample mentorship no matter the time of day or how silly the question. The lessons I learned from the AACOM GR team will be beneficial not only in the health policy arena and medicine, but also in life, and I feel fortunate to have had their support and guidance during my time at AACOM.
Before my internship experience as an OHPI, I knew that I was 90 percent sure that I would pursue a residency in family medicine with the hopes of practicing primary care in a rural area, while being involved in health policy and advocacy. Now that my experience as an OHPI is complete, I know that my lifelong advocacy efforts are definitely not complete and my career moving forward must involve advocacy for patients, medicine, and the osteopathic profession. I am now 100 percent certain that a career in family medicine and health policy is a perfect marriage that I hope to achieve.
Not only has this internship motivated me to become a better advocate, but it has also motivated me to become a better student and future physician for the public that I will eventually serve. AACOM’s Osteopathic Health Policy Internship has been one of the most memorable experiences of my medical school career. I would encourage anyone with an interest in health policy to apply for this internship! I know future interns will have the same amazing experience that I was fortunate to have.
If you have any questions regarding the life of an OHPI, please feel free to contact me at Tara.L.Blalock@dmu.edu.