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Policy & Advocacy

#ElevateOME Story Library

Daniel Krajcik, DO, MBA

“As a third-year resident, I'm very excited to graduate this year and start my practice as a family medicine physician. With all the opportunities out there, one of the key things I look for is whether a program is eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Having accumulated much debt during medical school, the PSLF Program will give me the ability to care for patients who need it most in America.”

Jessica Barkhouse, OMS-I

“I grew up in a lower middle-class family with limited funds for education. I worked my way through college and was only able to go to medical school because of the Grad PLUS Loan Program. Because of this loan program, I am now pursuing a career as a DO in hopes of returning to my rural community and serving as a primary care physician. If the medical needs of our rural communities are going to be met, the government must continue to support federal student loan programs such as Grad PLUS to make medical school possible for students like me.”

Clara Hofman, OMS-IV

“COVID-19 is reminding us of the healthcare disparities prevalent in our country as we see higher hospitalization rates in patients who are black, indigenous, and people of color. Additionally, the shortage of personal protective equipment has not only prevented adequate protection for healthcare workers on the front lines but has also prevented medical students from having access to the clinical aspect of their education, which is vital to their preparedness as future physicians. As a medical student, starting rotations is one of the most exciting parts of our education. We work hard for a long time before we are trusted with the privilege of caring for patients. It’s important to ensure the protection of the healthcare workforce and for students like myself as the impacts of COVID-19 are continuing to be felt.”

Karen S. Hyatt, Chair Emeritus, Trustee of the Board, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences

“Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, WA was founded to train physicians to serve in rural and underserved communities. We have graduated over 600 physicians since our founding and 82% are serving in primary care in underserved communities. It is more important than ever that they have the opportunity to have that debt forgiven through the programs that are in place. I urge Congress to please protect the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and preserve the Grad PLUS Loan Program, both important to students who choose rural medicine. Also, I ask Congress to please continue to expand graduate medical education (GME) and support the Teaching Health Center GME Program. During these trying times of COVID-19, many GME opportunities are closed to students. We need to open up opportunities for our students to learn and serve.”

Ashley Dailey, OMS-III

“Imagine having at least 10 or more years of education to finally be able to practice medicine. You want nothing more than to help patients and provide them with the best care in an underserved region—because those same patients have to drive at least an hour to get to the nearest doctor. But you, yourself, are drowning in student loans, and simply cannot make the money you need to pay off these loans practicing in that small, little town. I believe the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a great incentive for physicians to go practice medicine in an underserved area, and to allow physicians to start taking care of patients without worrying about their daunting student loans.”

Brooke Grill, OMS-III

“It is well understood that physicians and other healthcare workers are facing many challenges in caring for their patients amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. What is less recognized is how the pandemic is affecting medical student education. The final two years of medical school are spent in clinical settings where students are exposed to a variety of specialties, trying to sort out what type of medicine to pursue. COVID-19 has made these clinical years especially challenging, as a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and fear of infection has led many hospitals and clinics to no longer accept students. Due to limited resources, PPE shortages, and an attempt to limit the spread of the disease, many students, including myself, have faced difficulties in trying to meet our basic clinical requirements by finding clinics and hospitals that have the capacity to educate students in their third and fourth years. Now is a more important time than ever to have student doctors out in the field learning. It is a unique educational experience for students to learn to combat such a devastating virus, make traditional medicine more compatible with telemedicine, and urge patients to take part in preventative health measures. Allocating appropriate PPE to medical students, providing medical student loan relief, preserving and protecting the Grad PLUS Loan and Public Service Loan Forgiveness Programs, expanding graduate medical education (GME), and supporting the Teaching Health Center GME Program are of upmost importance to ensure the upcoming generation of physicians is equipped to provide the best care possible to patients.”

Heather DeVille, OMS-IV

“Two major topics that are being discussed nationally that are very important are the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and the Grad PLUS Loan Program. I speak from the experience of a first generation college student who relies on federal student loans in order to attend medical school. It is important to continue supporting students who rely on this funding. Medical school tuition is one of the highest priced education models in our country and is extremely limiting for persons of lower income status to achieve. We need more doctors. Please continue to consider the students' voices in your decisions for the welfare of the healthcare system and the people of this great country.”

Jeff Cashman, DO, Associate Dean for OMS 4th Year and Graduate Medical Education, VCOM-Carolinas

"Every day, I work with students who have completed over three years of medical school. They are talented and eager to offer service to the underserved populations across our great country. They are also worried that they will not have a place to complete their residency training. With the changes in healthcare education, just having the initials after your name does not allow you to practice medicine, you must complete a residency in order to obtain credentials and practice at virtually all locations. We need more residency spots to ensure all U.S. medical school graduates can obtain residency positions."

Shawn Hamm, DO, MPH

“My story’s not unlike many of my physician colleagues. I completed medical school with the dream of becoming a full-scope family medicine physician knowing good and well that it was going to take a significant financial investment to reach that goal. Here I am today, a third-year family medicine resident working on the frontlines of COVID-19, carrying a tremendous amount of financial debt. Congress needs to hear our stories because we are living the reality of the federal health and higher education policies that they enact on our behalf. We need support.”

Owais Durrani, DO

“There are so many important issues that the osteopathic medical education community must advocate for. This year especially, supporting graduate medical education (GME) is crucial to expanding the physician workforce battling COVID. So many residents are working tireless hours to make sure that Americans stay safe and are treated when they do get sick. GME is how we meet the demand for our lack of physicians. I urge my congressional representatives to support GME education and provide funding for this very important issue.”

Annie Phung, OMS-IV

“My curiosity for medicine and my genuine desire to educate others lays the platform for my passion for Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education funding. It is through these policies that individuals like myself are encouraged to pursue primary care residencies and give back to our local communities. It is in these areas that we as physicians and leaders in our community can impact the health of others. I want to be the doctor that others can trust with their healthcare and the care of their family members.”

Harris Ahmed, DO, MPH

“I know firsthand what it is like to grow up in a medically underserved area and to see my family and friends experience delays in healthcare. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has been extremely effective at retaining physicians in high need areas. Our poor and underserved communities deserve physician-led care. When we maximize the health of our communities, we maximize the ability for these individuals to reach their maximum spiritual, personal, professional, and social potential.”

Mustafa Basree, OMS-IV

“As a minority student, I spent most of my medical education in rural America, from South East Kentucky to Southern and Central Ohio. I’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges underserved communities face with access to healthcare. Research shows that minority students underrepresented in medicine are not only more likely to serve in underserved communities, but also to study and improve health disparities and health equity. Programs such as Grad PLUS and Public Service Loan Forgiveness are investments in the next generation of physicians and leaders to improve the status quo. We need your support. Let’s work together to better our communities.”

Tyler King, DO

“I am here to urge Congress to consider preserving and even enhancing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program in this time of crisis. As a family medicine resident with $457,000 of student loan debt, I chose family medicine knowing that PSLF would be there. Because of the PSLF Program, I can commit my ten years to public service and have some relief for my student loans. Because of PSLF, I can practice in Webb County, Texas, one of the nation’s most underserved communities. Because of PSLF, I can practice right along the U.S.-Mexico border and treat the types of patients I want to be treating—the underserved, those in poverty, and minority communities.”

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