BCOM representatives visited Washington DC in early March for DO Day on Capitol Hill. Medical students, Harris Ahmed, Megan McCord, Michael Davis, John Rajala, Gisele Irio, Shaun Antonio, Antony Awad, Marlina Ponce de Leon, Stephanie Ayala, and Joya Singh made the trip, along with BCOM Pediatrics Chair Scott Cyrus, DO.

The day started at 6am with a debriefing appointment before meetings with house representatives and senators. The BCOM group was fortunate enough to meet with Senator Tom Udall, and two students had one-on-one meetings. Marlina Ponce de Leon met with Maryam Janai, senior legislative assistant to Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke, while Michael Davis met with Adam Brooks, senior legislative assistant for California Representative Steve Knight.

The students advocated directly for two important pieces of legislature, the first being continued funding for the public service loan forgiveness program and for federal direct graduate PLUS and Perkins Loans. The second bill asks state representatives and senators to co-sponsor the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act, which allows physicians to cross state lines and provide medical care in the event of a natural disaster, without being liable for lawsuits when volunteering their time.

US Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico with BCOM representatives.

Ayala said, “It was amazing to see how attentive the staff were with the medical students. They were impressed by us and one office even asked us to draft an invite to have the senator come and visit our school. It definitely sparked interest in many of us to become or continue to be politically active in our medical careers.”

Four of the BCOM students were also in town for the National Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) Leadership Conference. This is the second year in a row that Ahmed, Davis, McCord, and Rajala have represented BCOM at the leadership conference.

The day after DO Day on Capitol Hill, Ayala and Ponce de Leon, along with fellow BCOMers Fernando Magana, Robert Lyday, and William Lay, participated in the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Sim Challenge where 16 teams from around the country tested their skills in a bracket style elimination. The AMSA website says the teams compete in “simulated clinical scenarios requiring medical knowledge, clinical skills, teamwork, and communication. In each round, teams will be presented with a clinical case. Each team will have ~15 minutes to evaluate, discuss, and present their findings. A panel of judges will determine the winner for each round.”

The BCOM team’s clinical case patient was an asthmatic who collapsed and went into v-fib arrest. “Though we did not win the competition we learned a lot from the experience and we are now better prepared for future competitions,” Ayala said. “Overall the key thing I learned from preparing for and competing in the event was the importance of teamwork. This will always prove true in terms of patient care and it was great to be able to have a glimpse into scenarios and situations that we’ll encounter during third year.”