GA-PCOM’s Farrah Rink and Sahar Rahim, on both sides of Georgia seventh district Congressman
Rob Woodwall, are shown with Rami Tabbaa and Roy Lee, students at the Alabama College
of Osteopathic Medicine.
Three Georgia Campus - Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) students, along with several alumni, traveled to Washington, D.C. recently to discuss health care with Georgia’s senators and congressional representatives. Hosted by the American Osteopathic Association, “DO Day on Capitol Hill” brought together hundreds of osteopathic medical students and graduates from across the country to advocate about healthcare issues.
One of the main topics addressed was reauthorization of the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program, which provides residents with medical training in underserved areas of the country. Support of this program, as alumni Rachel Gougian, DO ‘16, explained, would allow the training to continue, while addressing the gaps in healthcare accessibility, and providing sustainable long-term outcomes.
Prior to the hill visits, participants were schooled in how to effectively communicate issues with legislators. GA-PCOM’s Riona Boozé (DO ‘20) was actively engaged in the training and offered advice to new participants about what to expect in their interactions on the hill.
On the agenda for Georgia’s constituents were meetings with the offices of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, U.S. Senator David Perdue and U.S. Representative Rob Woodall in which the legislators or their staff members were informed about the basics of osteopathic medicine and the importance of reauthorizing THCGME. Representative Woodall raised questions about the transactional nature of medicine today, health disparities across Georgia, and the distinction between coverage and access to care. The students discussed how partnering with patients can be an asset to delivering care in a time when medicine has become seemingly less personal.
The medical students also shared common challenges physicians face such as student loan debt and time constraints with patients. Sahar Rahim (DO ‘19) discussed preventable chronic diseases that are often overlooked as major causes of mortality nationwide, while Farrah Rink (DO ‘19) emphasized the importance of political advocacy as a means to foster legislative change.
Before the journey ended, GA-PCOM students had a chance encounter with Dr. Regina Benjamin, 18th Surgeon General of the United States. Awaiting flights to Atlanta, they exchanged stories and Dr. Benjamin imparted some wisdom. “You can’t feel defeated,” she said when asked about patient noncompliance.
She explained that whatever the challenges may be, physicians have the responsibility to persevere in empowering patients to make the best decisions for themselves. They discussed how patient autonomy is the cornerstone of change and the importance of patient education, service and outreach. Minutes before departure, pleasantries were exchanged, business cards were swapped, and photos were snapped. Just like that, the group parted ways after a beneficial and educational experience in the nation’s capital.
PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit branch campus of the fully accredited Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a multi-program institution of educational excellence founded in 1899. PCOM Georgia offers the doctor of osteopathic medicine degree, the doctor of pharmacy degree, the doctor of physical therapy degree, as well as graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. The campus, located in Suwanee, Georgia, is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit www.pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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