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AACOM Welcomes New Osteopathic Health Policy Interns

July 08, 2021


Following a competitive review process, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine has selected two osteopathic medical students to participate in the association’s Osteopathic Health Policy Internship (OHPI) Program. Part of AACOM’s Leadership Institute, the OHPI Program enables osteopathic medical students to develop knowledge of federal healthcare and higher education policy and how to have a foundational impact on public policy formulation.

kaitlyn thomas_200x200CastroGilliard_Alana_Headshot_200x200Kaitlyn Thomas (on left), OMS-IV, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), and Alana Castro-Gilliard (on right), OMS-IV, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Virginia Campus (VCOM-Virginia), will each spend eight consecutive weeks working virtually with AACOM’s Government Relations department. Throughout their internships, Kaitlyn and Alana will observe and participate in the legislative and regulatory processes, monitor ongoing public policy issues for AACOM, observe and implement appropriate advocacy techniques and develop networking skills.

“I see myself utilizing the skills taught at this internship for a better future, especially in the areas of medical education and rural healthcare,” says Kaitlyn. “I want to have the tools to understand how to best accomplish change in these areas and understand the challenges to meaningful change. I believe this internship will lay the groundwork for a future in health policy.”

“Without a doubt, Kaitlyn is perhaps the best student I've ever worked with,” says Richard Terry, DO, MBA, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, LECOM at Elmira. “Not only does she excel well above her academic level in all her rotations, but she is the most motivated, passionate and enthusiastic learner I've ever worked with. She has a strong interest in healthcare policy and public health.”

“From the moment I learned of this internship in my first year of medical school, I knew that I would be applying when the time came,” says Alana. “My medical school activities thus far have been built on the hope of working on the Hill with this program.”

“I have known Alana since her matriculation at VCOM and I am consistently impressed with her leadership skills and her dedication to the osteopathic profession,” says Jan M. Willcox, DO, Dean, VCOM-Virginia. “She has a passion for developing her peers, advocating for policy change and creating meaningful programs that benefit students and physicians alike.”

Past interns have gone on to become healthcare policy leaders. They have served as the Policy Committee Chair of the Assembly of Osteopathic Graduate Medical Educators Residents and Fellows Council and Vice-Chair of Health Policy at the Emergency Medicine Residents Association.