By Alixandria Fiore, OMS-IV, Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, National Director, Omega Beta Iota: National Osteopathic Political Action Honor Society
Growing up, we inevitably come to learn the age-old lesson that there is “strength in numbers.” Want to beat the toughest kids on the schoolyard in a game of tug-of-war? Recruit all/any of your friends. Need to do better on your geometry exam? Ask your older cousin for help. Want to win the high school state championship game? Throw a pep rally to help inspire your teammates to succeed.
Early on, we learn that goals that seem impossible to reach become reachable when we find a community that supports us, no matter how big or small, and works with us to accomplish an objective, whether simple or complex.
As we grow older, our ambitions become larger and more complicated. The need for a community of support grows greater. In medical school, we come to learn, especially in our clinical years, that patient management requires diligence and teamwork from a whole network of individuals: the patient, the physician, the nurse, the physical therapist, the speech-language pathologist, the dietitian, the medical assistant, the laboratory techs, the hospital administrators, etc. Throughout our medical training, we start to understand the interconnections of our health care system; we foster opinions and grievances, and we learn how advocacy can create a conversation and solve a problem.
As National Director for Omega Beta Iota (OBI), the only political honor society for osteopathic medical students, I come across countless anecdotes justifying that there indeed is “strength in numbers.” I have met students from across the country who share the same energy for advocacy and have made such a prominent impact in growing our profession. With our political system in such a state of flux, we as OBI members could not do what we do without our national partnership with the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s government relations team and its ED to MED campaign.
Over the years, ED to MED has unyieldingly provided medical and other health professions students with all necessary language, information, tools, and workshops to help make the complexities and nuances of advocacy simple and reachable. A vast majority of OBI members are and continue to be ED to MED advocates and Campus Ambassadors for their respective schools. The campaign has been so critical to the growth and development of not only health policy advocacy but also for the growth of OBI as a medical student organization. We have seen an almost 200% increase in our membership application numbers during our induction cycles over the last couple of years. Being an ED to MED Campus Ambassador has in fact become a highly regarded item on OBI’s membership application.
Because of our national partnership, medical students have helped make large gains in health policy and claimed a seat at the decision-making table for the future of key federal programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Grad PLUS loans. But what has excited me most is observing how students feel confident enough to apply the passion and energy that they have been exposed to and the tools they have been given to also tackle local policy issues affecting their communities, such as postpartum mental health surveillance efforts in Florida or scope of practice in Ohio, both of which do one thing—protect our patients.
OBI cannot thank ED to MED enough for the tireless work the staff does for the future of our physician and broader health care workforce and for making advocacy less daunting to all. I have no doubt that OBI’s esteemed current and future members will be positive leaders in their communities, dedicate themselves to civic engagement, empower other physicians, and ultimately save lives because of our collaboration and partnership with ED to MED.
Join the ED to MED campaign today to answer the question, “Where do you find your strength?”
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by AACOM.