Gov't Relations

Students Leading the Way on Advocacy

By Tyler Smith, MPHDecember 4, 2019

Morehouse PA students and faculty visit Capitol Hill. Photo: Morehouse PA Program

Over the past several weeks, PA students from across the country have been actively working to advance the policy priorities of PA education.

In mid-November, PAEA welcomed two faculty members and four students representing the inaugural class of the Morehouse School of Medicine PA program in Atlanta. During a two-day in-person meeting, the attending students and faculty participated in advocacy and leadership training sessions focused on PAEA’s legislative agenda, the experience of advocating on Capitol Hill, and the importance of PA representation in key leadership positions. 

Using this knowledge, the group then traveled to Capitol Hill with PAEA staff to meet with representatives of the bipartisan leaders of the Congressional Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus, Reps. Alma Adams (D-NC) and Bradley Byrne (R-AL). In addition to these leaders, the students and faculty also met with the office of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who serves the Morehouse School of Medicine’s congressional district, to discuss the unique contributions of the program to the broader institution. PAEA would like to thank Kabriel Moorhead, Brianna Cummings, Courtney Smart, Alexandria Blake, Pangela Dawson, and Mieshia Baker-Dunn for their participation in this experience.

In addition to the recent trip to Washington, DC, conducted by Morehouse students, PAEA’s sixth class of Student Health Policy Fellows is also making its mark on PA education advocacy.

Rep. Andy Biggs speaks to the A.T. Still University PA Program. Photo: A.T. Still PA Program

Following her attendance at the 2019 Student Health Policy Fellowship meeting at PAEA’s offices in September, Zoe Swett, a PA student at A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona, decided to get an early start on her community-based advocacy project. In the weeks following the meeting, Zoe worked with both the faculty, including Program Director Michelle DiBaise, staff at her university, and the office of the program’s representative, to successfully organize a  visit to her program by Rep. Andy Biggs. Rep. Biggs, who currently serves as the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, is an influential voice among congressional conservatives.

During the visit, Swett had an opportunity to present PAEA’s key policy priorities to the Congressman, including clinical training site availability, diversity, and equal access to federal loan programs for PA students. In addition to this presentation, Rep. Biggs toured the facilities of the program and participated in a question and answer session with attending students and faculty. PAEA would like to thank Zoe, Dr. DiBaise, the faculty and staff at A.T. Still University, and the office of Congressman Biggs for their work in making this program visit possible.

Tyler Smith, MPH

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.