Last month, PAEA’s Government Relations team continued its three-year collaboration with the George Washington University PA program by hosting the first-ever Virtual GW Advocacy Day. This event, held over two days, aimed to develop the policy and advocacy skills of participating students and advance key policy goals of the Association.
“It was a unique opportunity to be able to meet with staff members who can directly ally with students in enacting policy for the future of the PA profession,” said one student.
On the first day, students participated in a training session consisting of a presentation on advocacy best practices in a virtual environment, followed by a simulated advocacy call. Students were then given an opportunity to coordinate and plan their approaches with their classmates. Following the training session, the students conducted over 70 meetings with congressional staffers on December 9 to discuss two key policy priorities for PA education.
In Senate meetings, the students discussed the Strengthening America’s Health Care Readiness Act. This bill, which was endorsed by PAEA and introduced in mid-2020 by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), seeks to simultaneously address the longstanding issues of health workforce maldistribution and barriers to workforce diversity. Specifically, the bill proposes a $5 billion investment in the National Health Service Corps scholarship and loan repayment programs with a 40% carve-out for students and clinicians historically underrepresented in the health professions.
In House meetings, the students focused on the Physician Assistant Higher Education Modernization Act, which improves federal borrowing terms for PA students and invests in PA program development at minority serving institutions. As a result of the students’ advocacy, the bill is in a strong position ahead of anticipated reintroduction in the 117th Congress with broad bipartisan support.
“I gave this a 10 because it really reiterated the importance of advocating for our profession and also made me feel more confident in my ability to speak on behalf of my profession to government officials,” said another student.
The Government Relations team would like to thank the faculty and students of the GW PA program for their participation in this event. If your program is interested in grassroots advocacy opportunities for your students, please contact Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org to learn more about PAEA’s offerings.