OHPI Spotlight: Joseph Anderson Reflects on Health Policy to Remedy Shortage of Physicians in Rural and Underserved Areas


Joseph Anderson, OMS-IV
University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine


fter three years of studying the complexity of the human body and examining the interactions of disease and health at an individual level, I was presented with an exciting opportunity to take a step back from patient care and learn about our similarly complex health care system from a very unique vantage point.  At the end of my two month experience as an Osteopathic Health Policy Intern (OHPI) at AACOM, I cannot speak highly enough of my time spent here in Washington, DC.  The lessons I’ve learned and connections I’ve made in this short period will impact my approach to analyzing and solving problems throughout the course of my future practice and career.

10-2015Joe-Anderson2As part of AACOM’s Government Relations team, much of my responsibility focused around covering various federal policy meetings related to education and health care.  As a medical student, it was truly inspiring to listen to some of the greatest minds in medicine come together to strategize on how best to approach some of the most devastating diseases and challenging delivery issues facing our health care system.  Attending meetings with physician leaders in the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse, the Veterans Administration Commission on Care, the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health, and the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS were some of the most meaningful experiences during my internship.

As I hope to enter a residency in the field of pediatrics, I had numerous opportunities to explore areas of advocacy that I could focus on in my career.  I had the pleasure of attending the 6th Annual Childhood Cancer Summit, and heard from congressional representatives, oncologists, cancer researchers, parents, and even one brave young cancer survivor about the progress being made in the fight against pediatric cancer.  I attended congressional briefings on pediatric health, attended a meeting of the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines, and attended a discussion on Capitol Hill on The Raising of America, a documentary outlining issues regarding early child health and development.  Needless to say, my mind was spinning with ideas of where I can focus my future advocacy efforts.

My internship also involved investigating a health policy topic and delivering a paper and presentation analyzing the issue.  Having grown up in rural Maine, I decided to focus my research on the challenge of addressing the issue of the rural physician shortage in our country.  It was interesting to dig into the history of the issue and how health policy initiatives have attempted to provide solutions over the years.  My recommendations focused on helping students from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds to navigate the pathway from high school, to college, and finally to medical school as a means of training the medical students most likely to work in the areas where we need it most.

Over the course of this internship, my understanding of how broadly health policy affects our lives was strengthened at every turn.  Not only as physicians will we feel the impact of policy decisions on our practice and careers, but our entire nation’s health is influenced by policymaking focused on promoting health and wellness, investing in medical research, and aligning our health care delivery system to encourage the best possible outcomes for patients.  Although I don’t know what my future practice as a pediatrician will look like, this experience has compelled me to ensure that policy and advocacy remain an integral part of my future career.

In closing, I’m particularly grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such a great team in the Government Relations department at AACOM.  Their energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to advancing the goals of our osteopathic medical schools and the profession at large is inspiring, and I hope to work with them again in the future.

Please feel free to contact Joe with specific questions about his OHPI experience at


Inside OME Header
October 2015
Vol. 9, No. 10