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OHPF Kicks off 2022-23 Year at WVSOM
Aug 25, 2022

L-R, Dimitri Tito, James Nemitz, Phil EskewPhoto right: WVSOM President and OHPF alumnus James Nemitz (center) greets 2022 OHPF Members and WVSOM Alumni Dimitri Tito (left) and Phillip Eskew,(right) August 2022

The Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship kicked off its 2022-23 year with a four-day visit to the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, in Lewisburg, West Virginia. From August 17-21, the new class of ten fellows were introduced to new modes of thinking about health care–what the fellowship has for more than a quarter century called a “high ground” approach to policy. A series of interactive sessions with a range of West Virginians raised foundational questions about how best to deliver health care services to rural and other underserved populations in Appalachia. An intentional focus sought to distinguish those areas in which clinical medicine could be the difference maker and where public health could have a larger impact.  

2022 group photo of OHPF fellows at WVSOM

Caption: Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship Class of 2023 with Presenter Jan Rader at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, August, 2022. Left to Right, Back Row:  Haylee Heisenberg, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, WVSOM; Kevin Miller*, Bend, OR; Dan Skinner, OHPF Co-Director, Dublin, OH; Al Pheley, OHPF Co-Director, Jackson, MI; Dimitri Tito*, Kalamazoo, MI; Phil Eskew*, Mauldin, SC; Wynde Cheek*, Helena, MT; Front Row: Janet Lieto*, Ft. Worth, TX; Anya Cope*, Harrogate, TN; May Lin*, Moraga, CA; Jan Rader, Speaker; Britani Javed*, Mesa, AZ; Cheryl Graffagnino*, Dublin, OH; Thun-Tien Le*, Tacoma, WA  (* = Fellows)

The group toured WVSOM’s beautiful campus in rural West Virginia, visited with the staff at a local federally qualified health center, and heard about innovative WVSOM programs in nutrition and other areas of medical education that connect with policy. Perhaps the highlight of the visit was a day spent with Jan Rader, the legendary former fire chief, nurse, and a well-known leader in efforts to address West Virginia’s crisis in substance use disorder. Currently, Rader is Director of the Mayor’s Council on Public Health and Drug Control Policy in Huntington, West Virginia. 

This year’s OHPF class will meet ten times this year, including six in-person sessions. The group’s next in-person meeting will take them to Des Moines, Iowa in November, where the group will focus on state-level policymaking. The host of that session will be the Des Moines College of Osteopathic Medicine.


Valerie Sheridan

Valerie Sheridan, DO OHPF Class of 2019 Appointed Dean of ATSU-SOMA
Feb 16, 2022

Although a bit delayed, we are excited to announce the July 2021 appointment of Valerie Sheridan, DO, graduate of the OHPF class of 2019, as the dean of A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA). In the announcement of her appointment, ATSU President Craig Phelps, DO, said, “Dr. Sheridan has demonstrated a commitment to and command of osteopathic medical education throughout her distinguished career, including the last five years as part of ATSU-SOMA’s administration. Her leadership and expertise will service ATSU-SOMA well.” Congratulations, Dr. Sheridan on this impressive achievement.


Congratulations to OHPF Alumnus, David Russo, DO, MPH
Dec 10, 2021

Congratulations to David Russo, DO, MPH and OHPF alumnus (2019) on publishing “Doctors Should Not be Penalized for Prescribing Opioid Alternatives” in the Portland (OR) Tribune. Co-authored with Oregon state senator Jeff Merkley, the article’s message is clear: The opioid crisis shows no sign of letting up. In the past two years, Oregon has experienced a 44 percent increase in opioid-related deaths. Even more concerning is the 30 percent increase reported across the US just in the early months of the COVID pandemic. Russo and Merkley provide a strong rationale and statement of support for the “Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation - NOPAIN Act” (HR-3259, 79 co-sponsors; S-586, 37 co-sponsors). If passed, the bill would authorize the removal of Medicare financial barriers to the use and administration of evidence-based, non-opioid treatments that can replace or reduce opioid consumption. Dr. Russo tells us that this op-ed was made possible by relationships he developed during his time in the Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship.


OHPF Class of 2022 Update – Challenges and Lessons from the Time of COVID
Dec 02, 2021

For more than 25 years, the Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship has mentored over 250 mid-career DOs and other individuals with a connection to the osteopathic profession to engage in health policy discussions, analysis, formulation, and advocacy. The success of the program is attributable to several factors, the most important being connecting fellows to experts and organizations intimately involved with a broad range of issues across the program’s eleven session year. It also develops a strong bond between the Fellows that transcends the program, fostering lifelong collegial relationships and friendship.

The pandemic of 2020-2021 challenged the Fellowship in the same way it challenged almost every aspect of the profession. Our in-person meetings ended after the March 2020 session (Fellowship year 2020-2021), cutting short the program by four sessions, including the final Congressional office visit program and the capstone policy brief exercise. Although virtual sessions were employed to cover the missed material, these opportunities did not provide the same collegial environment. Similarly, the Fellowship class of 2021-2022 began with virtual sessions that covered basic orientation, introduction to critical fellowship issues, discussions with issue experts, including a session with Randy Danielsen, PhD, Director of ATSU-SOMA’s Center for the Future of the Health Professions, and completion of the first of two policy brief writing assignments. Although the Fellowship has continued these last 18 months, the true connectedness fostered with organizations and policy experts, as well as within the Fellows themselves, has not provided as rich of an environment that is the foundation of the program.

We remain optimistic that the trajectory of the pandemic will allow us to, once again, begin the traditional offering of in-place meetings in early 2022. We have secured commitments from ATSU-SOMA for mid-January and from the NYIT-COM Arkansas campus for February and are well into the planning of those sessions. We are also in discussions with other sites to secure meetings for the completion of the 2021-2022 class and to secure the calendar for the 2022-2023 class.