Before heading to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives in Congress, the group of students from the University of Southern California began their journey at PAEA headquarters to learn about the issues that affect PA students, especially relating to funding their education. Government relations staff from both PAEA and AAPA educated the students about the various federal programs that fund PA education and how they can act as powerful liaisons between the representatives and their constituents.
The next day, students met with members of Congress to speak about the PA Higher Education Modernization Act and the PA Education Public Health Initiatives Act, while also sharing their own stories about Title VII funding supporting the costs of PA education, such as the National Health Service Corps Scholarships and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant funding for disadvantaged students, both of which have benefitted students in their program.
“Advocacy training with PAEA provided me with insight into the complexity of developing and introducing bills that support the growth and diversity of the PA profession,” said student Karina Parra. “It gave me the opportunity to build upon my confidence and advocate for the future of the PA profession and the communities we hope to serve as future health care providers.”
As part of the trip, Rep. Karen Bass, the only PA in Congress, invited students to her office, where they sat down with her to learn about the importance of advocacy as PAs. Bass, who is an alumni of the Primary Care PA Program at USC, inspired the students. Many said that they plan on continuing to advocate and serve as leaders in the profession.
Helping PA students learn to advocate for their profession is an important goal of the PAEA Government Relations team, said Athena Abdullah, director, Government Relations. “It’s always a thrill for me to see another group of students begin to learn the ways of Washington and understand the power they have as advocates to make change for the PA profession,” she said. “The passion students have for their profession and their patients is always infectious and makes a strong impression on legislators.”
Claire Norman is the public communications coordinator for the Department of Family Medicine at the USC Keck School of Medicine. She accompanied the PA students on their trip to Washington, DC.