A Busy Week for PA Education Advocacy in Washington

More than 50 attendees from the University of Southern California, MGH Institute of Health Professions PA programs, and Stanford University PA program traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to participate in advocacy training and put their newly developed skills into action during meetings with the offices of their elected representatives.

Prior to their trip to Capitol Hill, PAEA’s Government Relations team and Polsinelli consultants provided the students and faculty with an overview of PAEA’s key policy priorities and discussed how these priorities are reflected in H.R. 1685 and H.R. 1686, reintroduced by Rep. Karen Bass to coincide with the spring advocacy trip. They also emphasized the importance of student leadership in promoting the PA profession as a solution to the nation’s critical health care challenges. PAEA President Jonathan Bowser, MS, PA-C, and CEO Timi Agar Barwick, MPM, each provided remarks to the attendees on their experiences with PA education advocacy and leadership and encouraged the students and faculty to build upon their experiences as they returned to their programs.

Students and faculty from USC, Stanford, and MGH Institute of Health Professions on Capitol Hill. Photo: Claire Norman, Keck School of Medicine of USC

After completing advocacy training provided by PAEA’s Government Relations team, the students and faculty embarked upon Capitol Hill to help build congressional support for H.R. 1685 and H.R. 1686. During more than 60 meetings with members of Congress and congressional staff, including Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA), attendees had the opportunity to share their stories on the impact of federal student loan availability, loan repayment incentives, and clinical training experiences on their ability to finance and receive a high-quality education. A congressional reception held on the evening of the Hill Day gave attendees a chance to share their stories and celebrate their success.

I would definitely do this again. It was an amazing opportunity that will stay with me forever. I have been inspired to speak up even when I don’t feel comfortable doing so, because it will not only help me, but also help others,” said USC student Jacqueline Hayata.

Kevin Lohenry speaking on Capitol Hill. Photo: Tyler Smith, PAEA

Following the Hill Day and congressional reception, past PAEA President and current USC Program Director Kevin Lohenry, PhD, PA-C, participated in an interprofessional panel before congressional staff about the value of Title VII investments in bolstering the health workforce in underserved communities. During his presentation, Lohenry spoke specifically about his program’s current scholarships for disadvantaged students, experience with the Health Careers Opportunity program, and efforts to secure Primary Care Training and Enhancement support for USC’s Street Medicine work.

PAEA’s Government Relations team would like to offer special thanks to the leadership of the USC, Stanford, and MGH Institute of Health Professions PA programs for their participation in this year’s trip.