LSU Med Students Get Health Policy Experience

The first class of Summer Health Policy Fellows at LSU Health New Orleans received certificates of completion last Friday, at an on-campus luncheon sponsored by AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana.

The six LSU Health New Orleans medical students – Sharis Steib, Michael Okoronkwo, Hayes Patrick, Louis Monnig, Grant Clinkingbeard, and Jamie Bolden – spent about two months in Washington, DC, with Senator Bill Cassidy, MD, Representative Steve Scalise, and the Energy and Commerce Committee, at the American Public Health Association, as well as the Congressional Research Service and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.  They researched topics from a policy perspective that included Zika, the manufacture and costs of prescription drugs, opioid abuse, public health practices in school-based health clinics, lead, concussions, and Medicaid expansion.

A sample of their diverse policy experiences included participation in Congressional hearings, attendance at National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine roundtables, developing policy recommendations and providing briefings on topics of interest to congressional leaders. Group meetings in Washington with physicians who hold leadership positions at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health provided the fellows with concrete illustrations on the role physicians can play in shaping health care and public health policy to improve the health of the nation.

“This unique program was created, in part, to develop the policy skills of future health care leaders educated in the state,” noted Peggy Honoré, DHA, the AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana Endowed Professor at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health and fellowship program director. “It is designed to enhance the student’s understanding about the contribution of public health to improving health outcomes through policy. Another major goal is to provide LSU Health New Orleans medical students with knowledge that they can use to better understand the context in which health care is delivered and the health of the population is improved. This knowledge can serve as a catalyst to position them well as future health care leaders in the state and beyond.”

The fellowship program was funded by a gift from AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana to the LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health. Its goal is to provide LSU Health New Orleans medical students with working knowledge of health policy at all stages – research and analysis, advocacy, development and implementation.

Recruitment for the 2017 Health Policy Fellowship Program is already underway.