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.
“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.
— Simon Fraser (@simonfraser75) March 5, 2015
— Frank Cusimano (@frank_cusimano) March 5, 2015
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.”
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?”