Advocacy in Action on Capitol Hill

RVUCOM-CO and CU students meet with Representative Dylan Roberts.

Early in the year, students and faculty met face-to-face with legislators at their state capitol to discuss and advocate for key issues affecting patients and medical providers. While the issues differed between the two campuses, the students gained valuable experience in health policy and shared their unique perspectives with representatives.

In Colorado, first- and second-year students from RVUCOM and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus participated in “Medical Student Day at the Capitol,” which was hosted by the Colorado Medical Society on Tuesday, January 21st. Students discussed several issues with state legislators at multiple meetings throughout the day and sat in on the Joint Health and Human Services Committee meeting. They also spoke with lawmakers regarding bill HB20-1085: Prevention of Substance Use Disorders and shared anecdotes of how the opioid crisis has affected them both professionally and personally.

L-r: Uday Patel, Danielle Coleman, James Rager, Gracie Swanberg, Kassandra Castillo, Ashton Carter, and Iris Burgard.

“You can tell [the legislators] enjoy engaging with students and respect us as ‘experts’ in our field,” said Danielle Coleman, OMS II, who also attended the event last year. “I hope that RVU will continue to support students’ involvement in this event as it is such an important and eye-opening experience.”

On Wednesday, February 5th, twelve RVUCOM-SU students made the trip to their state’s “Doctors Day at the Legislature,” which was hosted by the Utah Medical Association (UMA) in Salt Lake City. Students were joined by physicians from a wide range of specialties to engage with representatives and to advocate for bills and resolutions concerning physicians, patients, and healthcare in Utah.

RVUCOM-SU students pose at the state capitol.

Senator and Assembly representatives answered questions posed by students about four bills that the UMA had chosen to focus on: the Telehealth Parity Amendment, which aims to improve reimbursement for telehealth services and telemedicine; a bill aimed at banning tanning bed use for minors without a provider’s prescription; the Balancing Billing Amendment, which strives to protect patients who require emergency room services from a provider outside of their insurance network; and the Electronic Cigarette and Nicotine Amendment, which seeks to increase regulation and restrictions on e-cigarettes due to their negative and potentially serious health consequences.

During the event, students actively participated in the parliamentary process and networked with other healthcare providers and legislative officials about issues they each felt strongly about. “It was a wonderful opportunity to be directly involved in health policy advocacy,” said Valerie Martin, OMS II.

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