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By: Kelly Rowe |
December 16, 2019
In addition to future physicians, three KYCOM students can add advocate for national and state healthcare to their already impressive resumes. Alaa Alghalayini, Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) President, Brandon Hamm, Second-Vice President for Student Government Association (SGA) and Nicole Tomczuk, along with KYCOM Dean Dana Shaffer, D.O., FAAO, dist., FAOGME, visited Washington during the annual D.O. Day on Capitol Hill.
While meeting with legislators to talk about the future of healthcare and education, the students left feeling empowered and thankful for the rare opportunity to share their stories and speak about issues that affect themselves and their peers.
The ambassadors for KYCOM discussed policies such as the Higher Education Act, the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program and the Grad PLUS Loans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
“It is important for our leaders to hear our stories and why these policies mean so much,” said Hamm. “It is a great privilege to advocate on behalf of the profession as well as my peers.”
Alghalayini echoed similar feelings about the unique and eye-opening experience.
“What was powerful for me was that I was able to sit one-on-one with my representative and explain to them why a certain policy needs to be changed and/or renewed,” said Algalayini. “They loved to hear my personal story and how the policy will affect me personally. It is an incredible feeling to be heard and taken seriously by your representatives, and I am very grateful for that experience.”
The annual event, D.O. Day on Capitol Hill, allows for a larger movement of osteopathic medical students to engage with elected officials and advocate for not only themselves but their patients.
For Tomczuk, being part of a large group of voices was inspiring.
“I think it is really important for my peers to get involved in political advocacy, especially with regard to legislative issues that directly affect our education, and even our future career in residency and beyond,” said Tomczuk.
Although D.O. Day on Capitol Hill 2019 has come to a close, students like Tomczuk are working with similar organizations as ambassadors to continue building a strong political advocacy platform for campuses across the country.