Wessley Square (DO ’20) will spend two months in AACOM’s Office of Government Relations
in Washington, DC, working on public policy issues.
Wessley D. Square (DO ’20) was recently selected as one of only three doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) students in the country to take part in the 2020 Osteopathic Health Policy Internship
(OHPI) Program, part of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s
(AACOM) Leadership Institute.
The OHPI Program—which is highly competitive and receives applications from DO students
from all over the country—enables those selected to spend two months in Washington,
DC, in AACOM’s Office of Government Relations. Interns have the unique opportunity
to develop an understanding and operational knowledge of how federal health care and
higher education policy is developed, and how to effectively influence public policy.
“I have been interested in politics for a long time and became increasingly so in
college, where I minored in political science,” said Mr. Square, whose internship
will occur during November and December. “The love of policy then was a natural extension
of an interest in how the decisions are made that shape our lives.”
During his time as an intern, Mr. Square will attend and report on key hearings and
briefings on Capitol Hill and meetings of relevant federal agency advisory committees
and councils, conduct research, and monitor and report on ongoing public policy issues
that impact OME. At the end of the internship, he will participate in an advocacy
presentation before the entirety of AACOM.
“As physicians, our role is not to defeat death but to minimize suffering and given
the impact of the numerous social determinants of health, minimizing suffering calls
for more than a pill, surgery, or therapeutic manipulation, he said. “It is our responsibility
as current and future physicians to be involved in how decisions are made and to speak
up for the wellbeing of our patients at every turn.
Decisions and problems that we will face as physicians are decided either with us
or without us,” he added. “So we need to make sure we are represented if we want to
have a say in things like burdensome pre-authorizations, prescription drug cost, physician
reimbursement, student loan repayment or residency slot funding.”
He says that among students, there is often a misguided belief that activism is ineffectual
at that level, and most effective when they become practicing physicians, but that
students can offer some of that medical knowledge without being hampered by external
influences that many practicing physicians have to face.
“Over the past three years I have seen students push for some amazing and urgently
needed changes,” he says. “Not everything the students call for comes to pass, but
that does not mean people aren't listening.”
He notes that just this year, the president of the national American Medical Student
Association (AMSA) appeared on stage with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; that AMSA
and the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) were the only two student medical
groups to collaborate with former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to call for federal
funding for gun control research; and that he himself had the opportunity to join
national conference calls with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the Giffords
Organization, and Physicians for a National Health Program on key health issues.
“Once we graduate we can stay involved, but our focus will shift as demands on our
time grow and life pulls us in thousands of new directions,” he said. “We can already
make a difference now, while we lay the groundwork and build connections that will
make continued future advocacy more sustainable.”
Mr. Square said he wished to thank several people for helping him attain this internship
position and for their overall support during his time in medical school, including
Kenneth Veit, DO ’76, MBA, provost, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean; Joan Gryzbowski, DO ’87, assistant professor, family medicine and past president of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic
Medical Association; Jennifer Lorine, DO ’10, clinical instructor, OMM; Kate DeKlerk, DO ’19, immediate past-president of SOMA;
his mother, brother and girlfriend; former AACOM Government Relations Vice President
Pamela Murphy; and “all the great student leaders I've met through SOMA both past
and present for being the great role models, mentors, friends and colleagues that
helped me develop my political and policy skills.”
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.
For more information, contact: Daniel McCunney Associate Director, News and Media Relations Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office: 215-871-6304 | Cell: