Emergency Information Take Over
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
School of Medicine student Joe Mechak chats with Delegate Tawanna Gaines about the benefits of loan-repayment programs.
E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine; Jay Perman, MD, University of Maryland, Baltimore President; and more than 40 medical students and faculty members traveled to Annapolis on January 30, 2013 to speak with members of the Maryland General Assembly about issues of importance to the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
In face-to-face meetings with lawmakers, faculty and students urged support for the Governor's budget, which would provide for the expansion of life-saving biomedical research. The capital budget provides more than $16 million dollars in funding to accelerate construction of Health Sciences Facility III -- a new research building on the University of Maryland campus in Baltimore. Students conveyed the importance of loan assistance and scholarship support. The average debt for School of Medicine graduates is more than $162,000, above the national average. The delegation also urged lawmakers to support funding for the University of Maryland cancer program, which has helped to dramatically reduce cancer deaths in Maryland to below the national average.
Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, Phd, MBA
“This is something that we do every year,” said Dean Reece in his opening remarks. “It is important for you, as students, and for faculty, as well, to get the opportunity to not only visit our legislative leaders, but at the same time to share with them how we, as an institution, work. Many are aware that we exist and know in a broad brush way what we do, but they very much appreciate hearing how our system works, how medicine works, and some of the challenges that we have to overcome.”
Senator Thomas Middleton, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, agrees. “It's so important that we have the opportunity to get one-on-one with you,” he told the students over breakfast. “You can share the role you will play as we roll out the Affordable Care Act in 2014. With all the medical needs we have out there, we don't yet have an infrastructure for them in place. You are going to be a very important part of that, and you have to communicate that to your legislators.”
James Kaper, Phd
House Speaker Michael E. Busch was also a guest at breakfast, where he spoke about the Affordable Health Care Act. “Right now, Maryland is one of the states best in position to implement the plan that the president and Congress passed,” he said. “There is going to be some ups and downs, but at the end of the day, we are going to have a system that insures 400,000 more Marylanders.” Speaker Busch knows that taking care of all those new patients is going to require more doctors. “We are trying to make sure we get the resources to the University system and to students and faculty, to make sure we have the best and the brightest choosing to practice in the state of Maryland.”
Michelle McCrone, Medical Student
The students were grateful for the opportunity to see the effect that politics can have on their chosen profession. “It’s nice to be able to see the bigger picture of what’s happening in health policy and talk to some legislators and be aware of that debate as it happens,” said second-year student Alexi Pappas. “As physicians, we will be in a position to effect change as well, so it’s good experience for us.”
Third-year student Joe Mechak agrees. “It’s a great experience, it gives us exposure to this world of politics that we are not familiar with,” he said. “More importantly, it gives politicians insight into the world of medicine and the School of Medicine and what’s important to us. One of the things I’ve been talking about is the loan-assistance repayment program (LARP). I hope to go into Pediatrics or Family Medicine, and debt is a big concern to me and many of my classmates, putting us in a spot deciding between what we’re passionate about and what’s financial feasible. It’s an unfortunate position for students to be in. The LARP offers an opportunity for students to have some assistance with that. It’s good for Maryland as well, because it keeps Maryland-trained physicians in Maryland, working in communities that need good physicians who care about the people of Maryland.”
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Manager, Public Affairs
Dean Reece and Senator Thomas Middleton
Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch
Delegate Steven DeBoy speaking with a student
University of Maryland, Baltimore President Jay Perman, MD
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.
Faculty and students arrive in Annapolis