Medical Student Perspective: From the Council of Student Members: Leadership Day 2013
On May 21 and 22, medical students from all across the country gathered at our nation's capital to lobby for issues pertaining to health care as part of the American College of Physicians' annual Leadership Day.
As part of their preparation, all participants received a comprehensive orientation on the current state of health policy in the U.S., and a briefing on ACP's top legislative priorities for the year. There were specific educational workshop sessions for students and physicians-in-training to help them understand some background facts, gain traction on the complex political environment surrounding health care reform, and obtain skills to lobby and communicate their views effectively.
The following day, alongside physicians, residents/fellows, and public health leaders, medical students from coast to coast filled the congressional offices and initiated active discussions on issues and exciting, innovative solutions amidst the challenging fiscal environment in Washington, DC. Among their top priorities were requests to eliminate Medicare's SGR Formula and transition to better payment systems, ensure full funding for essential health programs, and reform and sustain Graduate Medical Education (GME) financing to realign GME and workforce needs. The last issue was of utmost importance to the medical students as they will be the first to graduate in a time when graduating students will exceed the total potential residency positions in the US by 15,000 positions due to funding cuts.
The event was a success as students from across the United States joined together to share their stories and voice their concerns. After innumerable amount of preparation and hours of discussion with their congressional representatives, medical students lobbied in hopes of improving the future of health care in this country. Although Leadership Day concluded, active advocacy does not, as students and physicians continue to shape the health care landscape of this country one discussion at a time.
National representatives from the ACP Council of Student Members (CSM) joined efforts with their constituents in advocate for important issues facing the current medical students. Hao Feng, the Chair for the ACP Council of Student Members, actively advocated and called for GME funding and financing reform. America is already facing a critical shortage of physicians in primary care and other specialties. Unless Congress acts now, the country will face a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors in 10 years to care for an aging and growing population. At the same time, doctors are getting older, too, with nearly one third expected to retire in the next decade, just when more Americans need care. As medical schools expand their enrollment to combat the physician shortage, measures need to be in place to ensure that these graduating US medical students will have the opportunity to obtain residency spots to fully become a practicing physician. As the Affordable Care Act expands insurance coverage to the poorest inhabitants of this country, it is imperative that infrastructure, including enough physicians, is sufficient to provide high-quality, low-cost care. Insufficient GME funding will only hurt the most vulnerable population and drive up costs of health care by indirectly encouraging ER visits in absence of primary care physician availability due to shortage.
Ashley Minaei, CSM Western Zone Representative,
University of Washington
Preyanka Makadia, CSM Osteopathic Representative, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Hao Feng, CSM Chair, Yale University
On Behalf of the ACP Council of Student Members
About Leadership Day
Leadership Day is ACP's annual advocacy day on Capitol Hill, which provides an opportunity for ACP members to communicate their health care related legislative priorities to Congress. Participants receive a comprehensive orientation and briefing on ACP's top legislative priorities and then have an opportunity to meet with legislators and the staff on Capitol Hill.
About the ACP Council of Student Members
The ACP Council of Student Members was formed in 1998 to address the needs of medical students and represent the interests of ACP's approximately 28,000 Medical Student Members. The Council is comprised of 14 medical students representing medical students from all regions of the US, osteopathic schools, the military, and Canada.