Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH
AACOM's ED to MED Campaign, Raising the Profile of Medical Student Debt on Capitol Hill
s part of our mission, AACOM consistently advocates for federal policy priorities that support osteopathic medical schools, students, and graduates who build the health care workforce of tomorrow. Whether it’s long-term sustainable funding for graduate medical education expansion, support for community-based training, protecting federal student financial aid programs, or shaping regulations that impact osteopathic medical schools, AACOM continues to represent the interests of our membership in the halls of Congress.
However, advocacy continues to evolve, and now—more than any other time in history—individuals have the ability to communicate broadly with policymakers who will make decisions that impact their futures. Recognizing this opportunity and necessity to elevate the conversation on medical student debt, AACOM built a unique platform to empower medical students and other advocates to champion the critical policy issues that matter to them.
In January, AACOM launched the ED to MED campaign, a national grassroots advocacy campaign to bring together students, medical educators, and other advocates to speak up on the issues impacting osteopathic medical students and schools.
The ED to MED campaign arises at a critical time in the legislative process. Congress is currently negotiating changes to the Higher Education Act (HEA), the law governing federal student financial aid programs. Many of these programs are critical to medical students’ ability to borrow and pay back their student loans. With recent graduates of the nation’s osteopathic medical schools reporting mean debt levels of $229,934 for their medical education, students must have a voice in these discussions. In addition to student loan issues, negotiations around HEA could exacerbate the regulatory burden on osteopathic medical schools. In order to shape the outcome of this legislation, students and other advocates need to act now to show Congress that these programs are critical to their future and the future of the nation’s health care workforce.
The ED to MED launch has been met with great enthusiasm from our students and schools, with participation in webinars and engagement continuing to climb. AACOM is building upon this success by hosting its first Virtual Hill Day on March 2, in conjunction with COM Day on Capitol Hill. Additionally, AACOM is providing ongoing educational webinars and will be launching a full campaign website in April, during AACOM’s 2016 Annual Conference.
I encourage you to join the ED to MED campaign today to help shape the discussions on medical student debt and protect the future physician workforce. Through raising the profile of the osteopathic medical student voice, we as a community will influence real change for the future of our medical students and the osteopathic profession.