Advocacy in action

DO Day 2015: Despite snow, profession lobbies for SGR repeal, GME reform

Although a snowstorm hampered transit and closed federal offices, roughly 800 students and DOs braved the elements to attend DO Day.

On Thursday, for the 17th time in as many years, DOs and osteopathic medical students traveled to Washington, DC, from all corners of the nation to meet with lawmakers and advocate for the osteopathic profession.

Although a snowstorm hampered transit and closed federal offices, roughly 800 students and DOs braved the elements to attend the event, and some participants were still able to meet with their representatives or their office staff. Students and DOs with cancelled meetings made the most of the day by holding breakout policy discussions, writing letters to their representatives and filming advocacy videos that will be shared with legislators via social media.

Despite the snow, DO Day participants made good use of their time Thursday, says AOA trustee Joseph A. Giaimo, DO.

  • Michael Joseph McKenna, OMS III, and Ryan Huang, OMS II
    Michael Joseph McKenna, OMS III (left), and Ryan Huang, OMS III, decompress with their colleagues during a post-DO Day reception Thursday. (Photo by Rose Raymond)
  • Twitter: Thanks for braving the snow and meeting with us @RepCheri !! #DOSnowDay2015 #advocacy #CCOMDOday2015 @AOAforDOs (via @ccchicago5)
  • Twitter: #DOSnowDay2015 #CCOM @MidwesternUniv @AOAforDOs @AACOMmunities (via @ccchicago5)
  • AOA President Robert S. Juhasz, DO
    AOA President Robert S. Juhasz, DO, addresses DO Day participants Thursday morning. (Photo by Rose Raymond)
  • Practice Capitol Hill meeting
    Jimmy DeMeo, OMS IV (left), Katie Eggerman OMS IV, Michael Joseph McKenna, OMS III, and Sumeet Singh, OMS IV (right), hold a practice Capitol Hill meeting. (Photo by Rose Raymond)
  • Robert A. McDonald
    Robert A. McDonald, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, speaks to DOs and students Thursday morning. "We're looking for a lot of good people, and we'd love to have you join us," he told the crowd. (Photo by Rose Raymond)
  • Rep. Ami Bera, MD, of California
    Rep. Ami Bera, MD, of California, addresses DO Day attendees Thursday morning. (Photo by Rose Raymond)
  • Ricky Kalia, OMS III, Tyler Cymet, DO, and Matthew W. Smith, OMS III
    Ricky Kalia, OMS III (left), Tyler Cymet, DO, and Matthew W. Smith, OMS III, catch up during a pre-DO Day reception Wednesday evening. (Photo by Rose Raymond)
  • Instagram: White coat sledding at DO Day on the snow hill! (via jswiguna18)
  • Twitter: Had a great #DOsnowday2015! Stay warm! (via @SOMAFoundation)

“Although we didn’t all go up on the Hill and meet with our representatives, we had a chance to come together as a family and talk about legislative issues within the profession,” he says. “We had a lot of mentorship going on and a lot of small breakout sessions where the students and physicians had a chance to interact.”

Participants also shared their activities and policy objectives on social media using the hashtags #DODay2015 and #DOSnowDay2015.

This year, policy objectives included the repeal of the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR), the creation of more residency training slots and the establishment of student loan policies to ease the debt burden many osteopathic medical students and DOs carry.

Alexis Cates, OMS IV, of the New Orleans area, met with Rep. Steve Scalise, the House’s majority whip, and discussed these issues with his health legislative assistant on Wednesday at a weekly reception Scalise holds for visiting constituents.

“I was able to have a 10-minute conversation with Rep. Scalise’s health legislative assistant about the issues, which is pretty much what we would have done today,” says Cates, who attends the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. “I was fortunate to be invited yesterday before the snow. Specifically, we talked a lot about the SGR situation and how the end of March is the deadline to come up with a resolution.”

Students from the Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, film an advocacy video with the help of a few DOs.

Thursday’s snow gave osteopathic physicians and medical students more opportunities to work together, Cates noted.

“It was fun to be in a hotel with my entire osteopathic family,” she says, noting that students and physicians are often separated and busy attending meetings during OMED and other conventions. “The snow day allowed a lot more interaction between the students and the physicians, not only for networking and mentoring purposes, but also to talk about advocacy and what our states and schools are doing. Attendings and students even got together to make videos. When else would that happen other than a snow day?”

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