‘Advocating Even If Your Voice Shakes’ April 20, 2023
Second Year Clinical Psychology Student Discusses Passion for Supporting Others
When Sarah Fox (she/her, PsyD ’26) had the opportunity last year to share her passion
project to a room full of peers at Advocacy Day, she had no idea it would transform her life. Her project, titled “Gender-Affirming
Care: How to Help Medical Providers Best Support Queer & Trans Communities,” detailed
tangible ways for medical providers to more successfully treat LGBTQIA+ patients.
Anti-trans care legislation has been prioritized by state legislatures across the
country in recent years. As of February 2023, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) noted more than 300 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills across the country. Ninety of those bills specifically
prevent trans youth from accessing age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice
health care. Understanding the gravity of such policies, Fox felt that everyone left
the event having learned something new and feeling the power of advocacy—herself included.
Since presenting, Fox has worked to create more opportunities for students to engage
in discourse through outreach and events. “I’ve really found a passion for advocacy
coming out of Advocacy Day last year,” she said. The annual event, hosted by Philadelphia
College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (PCOM) School of Professional and Applied Psychology’s
Department of Clinical Psychology, focuses on interprofessional education (IPE). “We want students to enjoy learning
and advocating,” shared Ashley Poole, PsyD ’20, assistant professor, clinical psychology. “It’s not intended to be super formal.
The discussions are really to facilitate dialogue.” Calling the event “informative,
exciting, and memorable,” Poole expressed her pride in seeing students come together
in community again this year during the event on Friday, April 14. “I appreciate the
infusion of advocacy because although it may not be required, it’s something that
we prioritize and instill in our students. Seeing it come to fruition is exciting.”
Fox’s own Advocacy Day experience came full circle at the event, where this year she
worked as a facilitator. Leading two group discussions, she focused on fostering an
open, honest, and non-judgmental environment for students to reflect on the various
projects shared. For Fox, this experience, accompanied with an event she coordinated
earlier this month, is a demonstration of her commitment to helping people.
Fox worked with Family Medicine at PCOM physician LeeAnn Tanaka, DO ’14, Alexa Bonacqusiti, PhD, PMH-C, department of Clinical Psychology, as well as seven interdisciplinary PCOM student
organizations* to host an event in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
With the assistance of AccessMatters staff members Sasha Faust, trainer and sexual health educator, and Shannon Criniti,
PhD, MPH, vice president of strategic initiatives, the event centered around trauma-informed
care and gender-inclusive care.
It has been in moments like these where Fox realizes her true calling—supporting others.
“I always end up going back to the importance of speaking up and advocating, even
if your voice shakes. That’s one place I feel I’ve been in quite a bit, but we will
continue to advocate, whether it’s for ourselves, our field, or our patients throughout
our entire careers and the rest of our lives.”
*The April awareness event was co-hosted by PCOM’s American Medical Women's Association
(AMWA), PCOM Pride, Gender Care & Sexual Health (GCSH) Collective, Primary Care Progress
Club, Family Medicine Club, Student Government Association (SGA) Wellness, and Psychology
Council, supported by the PCOM Equity & Title IX team, and co-sponsored by the Office
of Diversity and Community Relations.
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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
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