Student Leadership

Student Health Policy Fellows Storm Capitol Hill

By Tyler SmithOctober 2, 2019

The 2019 Student Health Policy Fellows. Photo: PAEA

For the sixth time, PAEA welcomed 14 PA students from across the U.S. to Washington, DC, for the Student Health Policy Fellowship.

The Student Health Policy Fellowship, one of PAEA’s signature student development offerings, is designed to bolster students’ advocacy and leadership skills and empower them to enact meaningful change in their local communities.

This year’s in-person meeting kicked off with a full day of lectures and interactive sessions with advocacy staff from AAPA and PAEA focusing on policy issues related to PA education and practice, state-level advocacy, and the power of grassroots advocates. Following a lunch Q&A session with interim PAEA CEO Sara Fletcher, PhD, MAT Initiative Project Director John Lopes, DHSc, PA-C, spoke with the students about the role of PAs in promoting access to care for those suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD) — and the importance of completing the training necessary to prescribe buprenorphine to treat those suffering from OUD.

The afternoon concluded with a discussion about PA leadership paths by PAEA Chief Policy and Research Officer Dave Keahey, MSPH, PA-C, and an interactive session on effective engagement with congressional staff conducted by Kana Smith, legislative assistant in the office of Rep. Ed Case (D-HI).

The second day of the fellowship explored how students can effectively advocate for policy change in their local communities during a session led by 2018 Student Health Policy Fellow Marissa Weeks, PA-C, who successfully coordinated a program visit by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) late last year.

SHPF Fellows with Rep. Karen Bass (center). Photo: PAEA

In preparation for the culminating experience of the fellowship, Capitol Hill visits with each student’s elected representatives, the fellows divided up into small teams to practice their approach to congressional meetings. Using these skills, the fellows met with the offices of 13 Senate Democrats, 10 Senate Republicans, 6 House Democrats, and 6 House Republicans including personal meetings with Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), and Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA).

As the final component of the fellowship, over the course of the next year, each fellow will be required to complete a community-based advocacy project using what they learned while in DC.

PAEA’s Government Relations Team would like to congratulate this year’s fellows on their hard work throughout the in-person meeting and thank Sara Fletcher, Michael DeRosa, Marissa Weeks, Tate Heuer, Kristin Butterfield, Stephanie Radix, Julie Shroyer, James Fleischmann, Tatiana Brown, Rob Daley, and Kana Smith for their contributions to this year’s successful event.

Tyler Smith

Tyler is the director of government relations at PAEA. He is responsible for PAEA’s grassroots outreach initiatives and advancing the association’s legislative and regulatory priorities.