By Mary-Lynn Bender, AACOM Interim Vice President of Government and Public Relations
ED to MED advocates are the foundation of our movement. That’s why the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine recognizes an Outstanding Advocate of the Year annually at the Educating Leaders conference each spring. Previous honorees Mustafa Basree, Caleb Hentges, and Farrah Rink embodied stellar political and issue-based advocacy.
If you’re looking to follow in their footsteps, here are some of the ways you can amplify your voice on behalf of the osteopathic medical education community.
1. Become an ED to MED Ambassador
ED to MED Ambassadors are an elite group of advocates essential to our nationwide grassroots movement. Ambassadors help grow our community by serving as liaisons for the campaign at their schools. They elevate the concerns of health professions students to Congress and help influence policies that impact students, physicians, and patients alike.
2. Engage with your Members of Congress
It’s one thing to ask your legislators to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) on Virtual Hill Day; it’s another to stay in contact year-round. Fortunately, ED to MED has all the tools you need to help you stay engaged with your lawmakers in Washington. You can share your story, write your Member, or find other ways to raise awareness about the important issues impacting the future health care workforce.
3. Know the Issues
Policies and politics change daily on Capitol Hill. But it is always important for an outstanding ED to MED advocate to know what the key issues are for our community. A good place to start is making sure you have all of the facts on the HEA, and know why we are uniting to save the Grad PLUS and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Programs. The next step is to make sure you are keeping up with the latest policy developments. You can do this by subscribing to AACOM’s Washington Insider.
Whether you’re just beginning to dip your toes into the waters of advocacy or are consistently engaging with your lawmakers on Capitol Hill, anyone can stand up for federal student financial aid and loan repayment programs like Grad PLUS and PSLF. If you’re looking for more ways to take action, follow ED to MED on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed. If you follow these tips for success and incorporate your own creativity, you could even become our 2020 ED to MED Outstanding Advocate of the Year!