On January 31, BCOM was represented at the New Mexico State Capitol by a delegate of osteopathic student leaders. This marks the second year running BCOM delegates have visited the capitol building, also known as the Roundhouse, to meet legislators and have a visible presence during the open session. The group was introduced on the House of Representatives floor by Rep. Doreen Gallegos (Doña Ana) and on the Senate floor by Sen. Mary Kay Papen (Doña Ana).
The select group of student leaders who made the trip to Santa Fe to represent BCOM on a national level through their prominent involvement in on-campus student clubs and organizations were:
- Joya Singh, OMSII, President of the American Medical Women’s Association Student Club
- Michael Davis, OMS II, National Liaison Officer for Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA)
- Megan McCord, OMS II, President of the BCOM Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA)
- Jessica Jacob, OMS II, President of the BCOM Student Government Association (SGA)
- Brian Liu, OMS I, President of the BCOM Class of 2021
Chief of Pediatrics Scott Cyrus, DO; Assistant Dean for Multicultural Inclusion/Director of Communications Justin McHorse, and Governmental Affairs Liaison Pilar Faulkner accompanied the student leaders on the visit. McHorse said, “Our goal is to make a statement to the greater New Mexico legislative body, letting them know that BCOM is here in the state with a mission of improving healthcare, and that our ultimate goal is to expose students to our communities with the hope that they will stay and practice here. BCOM’s continued presence at the Roundhouse provides the opportunity for the student leaders to learn to advocate on behalf of themselves, their peers, their college, and the osteopathic profession.”
McHorse also noted that the experience afforded the student leaders some valuable personal mentorship time with Dr. Cyrus, who gave them inside advice on how to navigate politics and on effectively advocating for issues that affect practicing physicians in the region.
BCOM Class of 2021 President Brian Liu said making the trip was important to him because of the direct impact legislative decisions have on practicing physicians in the state. “Many times, legislators create policy without having much background or experience in that arena—as some of us witnessed after sitting in on some committee hearings,” he explained. “It is important that they are properly informed before making policy decisions. With BCOM being a new institution in the state, the following months and years are crucial towards establishing a solid foothold in educating legislators on osteopathic medicine and the medical issues seen in Southern New Mexico. As a future physician who is looking at staying in New Mexico, the policies that come down the pipeline would have a direct impact on how we practice and operate.”
Liu added that witnessing the inner workings of the government firsthand was a valuable and eye-opening experience. He said, “I knew New Mexico faced a physician shortage, but I didn’t really know the underlying factors until this trip. For example, I had no idea that New Mexico’s Gross Receipt Tax is higher than some of the bordering states, and when combined with tort laws that aren’t as progressive for physicians as those in say, Texas, it discourages many physicians from moving to the state, or remaining in the state. This experience has taught me that if you want to see change happen, you have to step up and help make it happen.”