College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific students want to make a difference, not only in their future patients’ lives, but also in shaping health care nationwide.

Twenty-seven COMP students will participate in DO Day on Capitol Hill March 14, 2013, organized by the American Osteopathic Association as an opportunity for Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) and students to lobby members of Congress and their staff face-to-face in Washington, D.C. Click here to read more on the AOA website.

On Friday, March 8, 2013, the Western University of Health Sciences student chapter of the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California (OPSC) invited U.S. Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod to help them prepare for DO Day on Capitol Hill. Her 35th Congressional District includes WesternU’s Pomona campus.

Negrete McLeod told the students to thoroughly prepare for their meetings in the Capitol, and to learn about the legislator they would be meeting and know about the issues they would be presenting.

“So many people who come and talk to me don’t know what their issue is,” she said. “You have very little time to speak to the legislator. Know what you want and be succinct in what you’re telling them. If you’re going to lobby about a particular issue, know what you’re lobbying about.”

These students represent the next generation of medicine, said COMP Vice Dean David Connett, DO. The key issues they will look to address in Washington, D.C. include their ability to obtain loans and secure resident training positions, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

One key issue addressed by Negrete McLeod was reimbursement rates for physicians. She said she expects there will be efforts to maintain current rates of physician reimbursement rather than cutting them.

“We talk about the Affordable Care Act. We are going to have all of these people join all of these exchanges (that will offer them a choice of health care coverage plans), but if we don’t have the doctors to service them, it doesn’t make any difference how many people we can cover,” she said. “There has to be the doctors to cover them. You need those people to get services.”

First-year COMP student Danielle Taylor said Negrete McLeod’s talk was informative, and that she explained the process well.

“She talked about the importance of advocating not just for us, but also for the community,” Taylor said. “That’s something WesternU really emphasizes. As we go forward in our careers, hopefully we can take the information today and the experiences we will get on the Hill into our practices, and advocate for our profession and for our patients.”

Students need to make a difference in the community and think beyond just their textbooks and talking to patients one on one, first-year COMP student Tyler Owens said.

“By going to Washington, D.C., talking about issues, talking with Congresswoman Negrete McLeod, we will be more aware what is going on and we will build a passion for it,” he said. “We will realize we can speak up and make a difference, and effect legislation that affects a wide number of people.”