Attending the Family Medicine Congressional Conference in Washington, DC, last month was an amazing experience.
Physicians, residents, and students spent the first day immersing ourselves in family medicine action on Capitol Hill. Thought-provoking discussions on family medicine pipeline and payment reform helped me understand how these issues affect students currently and will continue to do so in the near future. Issues like ensuring continued funding for National Health Service Corps so students can follow their convictions and work in underserved areas. Advocating for a permanent repeal to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) so students don’t have to worry about the financial stability of their future practices. And encouraging modernization of Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding so our training can more fully reflect who we are as family physicians.
After the first day of updates on family medicine’s governmental advocacy, we were able to meet Congressional Representatives, Senators, and their aides. The Missouri Academy of Family Physicians delegation and I were able to sit down and talk with US Representative Russ Carnahan about what we had learned the previous day. We told him about two House Bills related to GME funding reform and SGR repeal and urged him to support the future of family medicine (and possibly be a co-sponsor on the bills).
I’m a political junkie, so meeting Rep. Carnahan was exhilarating. I was so happy that I was able to talk to him about the importance of protecting National Health Service Corps funding and other issues that affect students. Reflecting on my experiences at this conference, I am 100% positive that a student’s voice is incredibly important on Capitol Hill. Hearing a student like me talk about my $200,000 debt upon graduation and how vital pipeline and payment reform are in ensuring that all patients have a family doctor is a message that all legislators need to hear.
Advocating on behalf of the future of family medicine is advocating on behalf of the future of health care in this country. I encourage all students to become involved in advocacy because we have an important voice, and we will form the backbone of the next generation of physicians.
For more information on medical student advocacy check out these resources:
The 2014 Family Medicine Congressional Conference April 7-8
Students, Residents: Stand Up and Make a Difference for Family Medicine