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Students Visit Lawmakers in Annapolis to Speak About Future of Medicine in Maryland

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, and nearly 50 medical students and faculty members traveled to Annapolis January 21, 2010 to speak with members of the Maryland General Assembly about issues important to the University of Maryland School of Medicine. In face-to-face meetings with lawmakers, students discussed loan repayment assistance programs, funding for scholarships and infrastructure projects, the problem of physician shortages, and the positive impact the School of Medicine’s research success has had on state revenue.

“The medical school is really about its students, and it’s important for these senators and delegates to see our students,” said Dr. Bruce Jarrell, executive vice dean of the School of Medicine and professor of Surgery. “Then they realize what a wonderful thing their support does, in terms of getting kids from all parts of the state, especially the underserved rural areas, to become physicians and other healthcare providers. They get to see the results of the hard work they’ve done.”

Legislators welcomed the students’ stories but admitted they could make no promises regarding continued financial support during such bleak economic times. Still, the students felt positive about their interactions with the lawmakers. “They have been great to us,” said Skyler Lentz, a first-year medical student. “They seem to be genuinely glad to hear from us and get our opinions.”

Lentz was part of group of students from the rural areas of Western and Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore who met with legislators from those counties to discuss loan repayment programs that might help attract doctors back to these underserved areas. “I’m here today to meet with them, because I grew up on the Eastern Shore, an area where physician shortages are really a problem,” said Lentz. “Also, I’m here because the University of Maryland School of Medicine has given me a great opportunity, and I would like to see that preserved not only for myself but for those who will come after me.”

Students and faculty were also invited to the Senate chamber, where the School of Medicine was presented with a proclamation recognizing the groundbreaking work of its faculty researchers in mapping the genome of the common cold virus, a step that might one day lead to a cure. Later, they had a brief visit during lunch from Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, who both spoke on the status of health care reform.

“It’s been a treat to be able to interact with our legislators and spend time listening to them and talking with them,” said Dean Reece. “An educated consumer is our best customer, so we appreciate the opportunity to share this information about our school with them.”

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 Dean Reece and UMB President David Ramsay accept a proclamation from House Speaker Michael Busch honoring the School of Medicine.

 Second-year student Nina Brodsky met with her hometown delegate, Bill Frick, to thank him for his scholarship support.

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