GA-PCOM medical students advocate osteopathic medicine and the Higher Education Act (HEA) in Washington, D.C.
Last week, close to 30 Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) students from Georgia Campus - Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) joined more than 1,000 of their peers from osteopathic medical schools across the nation for the American Osteopathic Association’s (AOA) DO Day on Capitol Hill. DOs and medical students assembled in Washington D.C. to educate legislators about the impact of osteopathic medicine on health care, in addition to advocating for issues affecting graduate medical education.
Osteopathic medical students Shay Gibson (DO ’20) and Farrah Rink (DO ’19) shared details of their visit to the nation’s capital.
“DO Day on the Hill was an amazing opportunity to meet our elected officials, discuss osteopathic medicine and to advocate for specific legislation which affects the future lives of physicians and students,” Gibson said. “I loved the opportunity to share my own experience and to learn more about how politics are important in medicine.”
Gibson added that DO Day on the Hill started bright and early with remarks from AOA President Dr. Mark Baker. Briefings about advocacy and issues followed, along with a group conversation about the importance of osteopathic medicine. Picture-taking ensued, along with visits to the offices of U.S. Senators David Perdue and Johnny Isakson. Then four GA-PCOM students met with U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall.
Farrah Rink noted that the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) was one of the main topics discussed with legislators.
“The HEA finances many osteopathic medical students’ education. Without programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS and the Federal Perkins Loan programs, future physicians’ access to education could be in jeopardy,” Rink said. “I have a personal stake in this discussion because without Grad PLUS loans, I could not afford my education.”
Gibson said the students began by thanking legislators for voting to reauthorize the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program which supports training of future primary care physicians in underserved areas with increased residency spots in many locations. She added the first issue addressed was the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act of 2017 which limits the liability of healthcare professionals who volunteer to provide healthcare services in response to a disaster.
“A big part of having your voice heard is being consistent,” Rink said. “I encourage everyone who attended to keep in contact with your legislators throughout the year. It’s never too soon to be thinking about #DODay19!”
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus 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 pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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