By Mary-Lynn Bender, AACOM Senior Director of Congressional and Public Relations
Each year, Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to reflect on the things that we are most grateful for, and to express our appreciation to the people who make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. Here at ED to MED, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’d like to show gratitude for our advocates.
Our community spent a year supporting federal financial aid and funding programs that are crucial to the health care workforce. Across the country, ED to MED advocates spoke in a united voice to improve the future of all health professionals and the patients they serve.
On behalf of ED to MED and AACOM, THANK YOU to all our advocates for their passion, dedication, and exemplary activism throughout the year.
There are countless reasons why we’re thankful for the advocacy of the ED to MED community. Here are just a few highlights:
1. #COMDAY18: On September 27, osteopathic medical school deans, educators, and students flew into Washington, DC to participate in AACOM’s 2018 COM Day on Capitol Hill while students outside of DC participated in our Virtual Hill Day. Our advocates shared their unique stories in nearly 100 congressional meetings, where they detailed the importance of key federal programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Grad PLUS. Not only did our advocates raise these issues in the halls of Congress, but also online during Virtual Hill Day, reiterating the importance of investing in these programs to address health care workforce shortages across the country.
2. 2018 Advocacy Challenge: Leading up to COM Day 2018, ED to MED advocates stepped up to take the #E2MChallenge. Health professions students, educators, and others across the nation helped policymakers better understand why protecting the future health care workforce is so important. Students recruited colleagues to the ED to MED campaign, shared stories about how federal financial aid programs impact them, and tagged legislators on social media to make sure their messages were heard.
3. #SaveGradPLUS and #SavePSLF: Together with its 18 national partners, ED to MED fought to protect and preserve two programs vital to the future health care workforce. With the Higher Education Act undergoing reauthorization, both PSLF and Grad PLUS were threatened by the PROSPER Act. However, ED to MED advocates elevated their voices by changing their Facebook profile pictures, tagging their Members of Congress on social media, and sending postcards, urging policymakers to defend these programs to help protect the health of their communities.
4. Campus Ambassadors: ED to MED Campus Ambassadors activated college campuses across the country. Students like Emma York combined their passions of medicine and politics to raise awareness about the issues that matter most to osteopathic medical students. Campus Ambassadors serve as leaders in their student community and educate their classmates about federal policies that impact their education and future careers.
5. The Voices of Our Student Community: Throughout the year, advocates wrote guest columns on the ED to MED blog, urging their fellow colleagues to get active and raise awareness about the changing landscape of higher education policy. Whether it was sharing unique insights about being a parent, student, and advocate, encouraging students to use their voices at the polls on election day, sticking up for underserved communities across the country, or fighting for Grad PLUS and PSLF, our advocates inspired fellow students to take action.
As you can see, we’ve had quite a year to be thankful for. Our success would not have been possible without the support of our advocates. As these examples have shown, our voices are strongest when they’re raised together.