LUCOM student-doctors, faculty spend time in D.C. for “DO Day on Capitol Hill”
Student-doctors from Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) took time away from lectures and labs to connect with their civic leaders on April 13 when they participated in DO Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
“Honestly, I get really uncomfortable when talking about political issues. Mostly because I feel like I’m not as informed as I should be. I really saw this as an opportunity for personal and professional growth and a chance to learn more about the profession I am working so hard to enter,” said student-doctor Lily Daniel, class of 2018.
DO Day on Capitol Hill is an annual event each year in April by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Annually, approximately 1,000 physicians and student-doctors occupy Capitol Hill in a display of white coats that signify their compassion, concern and involvement within the health care system of the U.S.
The purpose of the day is to educate members of Congress and their staff on the roles played by members of the osteopathic profession in the health of the nation and advocate for issues that are important to the profession, the patients it serves and the student-doctors.
For LUCOM student-doctors, DO Day on Capitol Hill began with a briefing about policy and political issues. Members of Congress, including the only D.O. serving in the House of Representatives, Dr. Joe Heck from Nevada, and a representative of the AOA staff and government affairs office lead an information session abut the workings of D.C. and their role in establishing and changing policies. They emphasized the role of the federal government on matters of immediate concern to most of the participants, student debt and the need for expansion of Graduate Medical Education (GME) opportunities. In addition, the profession is engaged in the processes required to diminish the dependency and complications associated with opioid abuse among patients through education of physicians, patients and the public.
After the morning briefing, student-doctors met with their representatives and senators to discuss potential solutions to these and other policy matters.
“It was incredible to see over a thousand osteopathic student-doctors and physicians united in support of our future profession. I believe that our voices were heard by many while we were in D.C. That is a great start. However, we need to keep in contact with our representatives and senators to ensure that action will be taken,” said student-doctor Janae Fry, class of 2019.
Not only did LUCOM student-doctors have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with their elected representatives and their staff, but they also had the rare opportunity to network with hundreds of other student-doctors from osteopathic medical schools across the nation.
“It was a great opportunity to get LUCOM’s name out there. I told a lot of people about our medical school,” said student-doctor Stephen Vetter, class of 2019.
Both Vetter and Daniel expressed a passion for increasing the understanding of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), a non-invasive, hands-on approach used to diagnose and treat a patient’s illnesses or injuries.
“I want support and recognition of OMT to be written into new legislation regarding the management of the current opioid epidemic. While I think opioids definitely have an important role in acute pain management, I think it is important to provide alternatives to pharmacological treatment. OMT is a fantastic option,” said Daniel.
“I want Washington to see OMT as a viable treatment for those suffering chronic pain. If people, the U.S. population and patients abroad, were more educated about osteopathic medicine, there would be a greater appreciation for the benefits of the osteopathic philosophy,” said Vetter.
Leaving Washington, D.C., more informed and connected, these student-doctors hope LUCOM will continue to increase its presence on Capitol Hill in the years to come.
“I chose to participate in DO Day on Capitol Hill because I wanted to have a voice in my future and in the futures of my colleagues and patients. I hope to bring an even larger group of student-doctors and faculty to next year's event so we can continue to advocate for our profession,” said Fry.