I wanted to briefly acknowledge how difficult the past couple months have been. Being a medical student is difficult enough, but it has only been exacerbated by the uncertainty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the protests confronting the public health crisis of police brutality and systemic racism. After seeing your incredible endurance and ability to adapt and advocate, I have hope for the future of our profession.
I wanted to provide updates on two important issues from the perspective of legislative affairs: COVID-19 and the fight against racism.
First, as many of you know, there have been several bills passed aimed at stimulating the economy against the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent of these stimulus bills is the HEROES Act which has been passed in the House of Representatives. This bill addresses various things impacting medical professionals including COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, medical research through the NIH, and student loan relief for frontline workers. Here is a link to the AAMC full statement on the HEROES Act. Furthermore, there has been a specific bill aimed at student loan forgiveness for frontline workers introduced by Rep. Maloney (D) of New York. This bill can be found here and the student loan forgiveness includes nurses, doctors, residents, medical researchers and more. This is a great opportunity to engage your classmates to advocate for this bill.
Second, the ongoing protests across the country have brought much needed attention to the ongoing issue of systemic racism and police brutality in this country. Currently, there are two bills in the United States Senate. While these bills are still in early negotiation, they are aimed at addressing chokeholds, qualified immunity, police body cameras, and the use of lethal force. As more information comes regarding these bills, I will provide them in the weekly updates. I encourage all medical students to continue educating themselves on systemic racism, specifically in our own profession. I recommend the follow books:
- Black Man In A White Coat - by Damon Tweedy
- Medical Apartheid - by Harriet A. Washington
- The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills - by David A. Ansell
I also wanted to mention the Supreme Court rulings regarding LGBTQ+ rights and DACA. Currently, there are 30,000 healthcare workers who are DACA recipients including 200 who are medical students, residents and physicians. The ruling to keep DACA in place by the Supreme Court is a victory worth celebrating, especially in an era when those healthcare workers are fighting daily against the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a statement by the AAMC CEO Dr. David Skorton regarding the ruling. As members of the healthcare community, we should also celebrate the historic SCOTUS ruling that the 1964 Civil Rights Act includes members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Please do not forget to sign up for AAMCAction.org. This website is a wonderful resource that provides avenues for students to become engaged in issues that affect them directly.
If anyone has project proposals that they would like to submit regarding legislative affairs, I would love to hear about them, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Ad. Board is always here to support you. If you ever need someone to talk to, I am always here to listen. Be kind, be safe, and take care of each other.
OSR National Delegate for Legislative Affairs
University of Utah School of Medicine