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Blog » Spelling Success in Advocacy: Important Acronyms to Know

Spelling Success in Advocacy: Important Acronyms to Know

April 18, 2019

By Mary-Lynn Bender, Interim Vice President of Government and Public Relations

April 13 may seem like an unremarkable date to most people, but for all the board game fans and the lexically inclined, it’s a day commemorating the ubiquitous word game: Scrabble. Whether you’ve heard of it or not, April 13 is Scrabble Day, and whether you play the traditional board game or just Words with Friends on your phone, we’ve all shared the experience of looking at seemingly unrelated letters and wracking our brains for ways to turn them into something that makes sense.

Sometimes advocacy can feel the same way. There are countless issues, advocates, policymakers, and dates to keep track of. Plus, you need to find a way to organize everything to turn random “letters” into actionable, high-scoring advocacy. Luckily, ED to MED is here to help sort the clutter into action.

HEA, PSLF, and FAFSA might look like your stash of unused letters in a game of Scrabble, but they are actually acronyms for legislation and programs that have a critical impact on the future health care workforce. As ED to MED advocates, it’s our job to transform these letters into a set of winning messages that score well with policymakers.

That’s why, in honor of Scrabble Day, we’re breaking down how to use these acronyms to craft actionable messages for the next time you speak up on behalf of ED to MED. Think of this guide as a go-to, easy-to-use ED to MED messaging dictionary:

HEA

Scrabble score: 6

Definition

The Higher Education Act is legislation signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 that governs federal financial aid and loan repayment programs. This legislation requires reauthorization by Congress every few years. Through HEA, the federal government designates which financial aid programs and scholarships receive funding.

What does this mean for the health professions?

Programs that are essential for graduate students in the health professions are funded through HEA. These federal financial aid and scholarship programs cover all the costs associated with medical and graduate education, and offer loan forgiveness, too. Many of these programs allow students who would otherwise be unable to afford an education to pursue careers in the health professions. That’s why well-funded HEA programs are critical for a culturally competent future health care workforce.

What does this mean for the average American and lawmakers?

Many loan repayment programs funded through HEA incentivize health care careers in low-income, medically underserved communities. Funding loan forgiveness programs, scholarships, and federal loans promotes a strong health care workforce in communities that need it most.

PSLF

Scrabble score: 9

Definition

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, created and authorized under the College Cost Reduction and Access Act and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007, provides loan forgiveness to those who commit to a career in public service.

What does this mean for the health professions?

PSLF is an imperative pipeline for bringing members of the health care workforce to medically underserved communities. Through PSLF, students are incentivized to pursue careers in medicine and health care and serve in communities that are most vulnerable. Considering the shortage of health care providers our country currently faces, we must work to ensure that all students—no matter their financial status—who wish to assist others, have a place in public service.

What does this mean for the average American and lawmakers?

Without PSLF, communities at risk could suffer the most. It’s not just the health care workforce that relies on PSLF, but also members of law enforcement, teachers, and other important members of society. In short, all the pillars of any functioning community could be impacted if PSLF were eliminated. A world without PSLF denies students an opportunity to access education, and the communities they would serve the chance to have well-staffed public services.

FAFSA

Scrabble score: 11

Definition

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the form used to apply for federal financial aid for college or graduate school.

What does this mean for the health professions?

Graduate students in the health professions must fill out the FAFSA in order to qualify for important federal financial aid programs such as the Grad PLUS Loan Program. This application process is the beginning of what allows many health professions students to receive federal loans that cover their full cost of attendance and give them the agency to pursue a career in health care.

What does this mean for the average American and lawmakers?

Without adequate federal financial aid support, many graduate students could be forced to turn to the private loan market, which often offers higher interest rates, fewer borrower protections, and stricter credit checks. Having to rely on private loans could have the impact of disincentivizing medical education for less represented student populations and weakening the future health care workforce. A strong health care system requires that prospective students can access college, and without federal financial aid, many would not be able to.

Advocacy is about connecting disparate ideas, people, and policies into a unified message that resonates with your audience. As you fight to protect and empower the future health care workforce, keep these messages in mind to ensure that you score highly with your audience, and don’t forget to encourage your colleagues to join ED to MED today.