Along with other osteopathic medical institutions and organizations, RVU participated in the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)’s 2018 COM Day on Capitol Hill. The event puts representatives from the osteopathic community in front of lawmakers to advocate for the protection of federal programs that benefit physician students, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and the Grad PLUS loan program.
Thomas N. Told, DO, FACOFP dist., Dean of RVUCOM and Vice President of Academic Affairs, and student doctors Frank Dang, OMS II, and Drew Glerum, OMS II, both members of the Student Government Association on the Colorado Campus, represented RVU at the annual event. They were also joined by David Park, DO, FACOFP, Vice President and Dean for the Southern Utah Campus, student doctors Jonathan Brick, OMS II, and Joel Speir, OMS II.
As of last year, Congress has sought to replace the Higher Education Act (HEA) with the PROSPER Act, a move which would threaten federal programs like PSLF and Grad PLUS. With tuition and student debt at the highest levels they have ever been, it is important for students to understand the complexity of policymaking and the importance of advocacy. COM Day on Capitol Hill seeks to bridge the gap between policymakers and those most affected: future physicians and the patients they hope to serve. “I learned about the pertinent topics that AACOM was trying to achieve politically in the hopes of solving the physician shortage crisis,” said SD Dang. “I was humbled to be given the opportunity to persuade representatives to support initiatives that would benefit medical schools, residency training programs and student loan repayment.”
In all, osteopathic medical school deans, faculty, and students participated in nearly one hundred congressional meetings during the event. “The COM Day on Capitol Hill was an amazing experience for me to see firsthand how Dr. Told and AACOM are fighting for the best interests of medical students and medical schools,” said SD Glerum. “The opportunity to spend a day advocating…to Senators’ and Representatives’ staff was an incredible honor. Crossing paths with the other Deans and students advocating all around DC was inspiring.”