AMCNO President-Elect Participates in OU-HCOM Policy Day

The Academy of Medicine of Cleveland & Northern Ohio (AMCNO) was pleased to participate and present at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Health Policy Day that took place last week. Dr. Robert Hobbs, AMCNO president-elect, and AMCNO staff participated in the day-long event. 

The day began with a legislative breakfast with Reps. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township). The breakfast discussion included first-year medical students from the Cleveland branch of OU-HCOM, Dr. Isaac Kirstein (Dean of the Cleveland campus), Dr. Hobbs, Dr. Robert Juhasz, other OU physician representatives, and AMCNO and Cleveland Clinic executive and lobbying staff. 

Dean Kirstein provided the legislators with background about the college and their affiliation with the Cleveland Clinic.  He noted that Ohio is facing a critical shortage in primary care physicians. In fact, experts predict that the state will need an additional 5,000 primary care physicians to meet its health care needs by the year 2020. He pointed out that the OH-HCOM has a track record of having the majority of its graduates go on to practice medicine in Ohio. The Heritage College, Cleveland, is committed to preparing tomorrow’s physicians to practice where they are needed the most – medically underserved urban and rural communities throughout the state, especially in Northeast Ohio. He stated that their partnership with the Cleveland Clinic gives students access to world-class medical facilities, physicians, scientists and clinical training opportunities.

The legislators in attendance commented that they hear a lot about physician shortages–in primary care, in particular–and there have been arguments on both sides of the aisle that the nurses could help fill that gap. This comment led to a lengthy discussion about HB 216—legislation under review at the Ohio legislature that would remove the collaboration agreement between physicians and nurses and change how nurses would practice in Ohio.  

Physicians in attendance at the breakfast noted that the medical community is not opposed to all facets of the legislation – there is room for some compromise; however, it is important to remember that the nurses’ training is not equivalent to what the students are working their way through right now at OU-HCOM.  Nurses are not equivalent to primary care doctors – they are great educators and very good at managing common medical problems, and they work well in medical teams; however, physicians have more training and are well-versed in the clinical management of patients. Physicians participating in the legislative breakfast also commented that most physicians and physician associations recognize there is a big difference in training and that is why, along with other reasons, physicians are in opposition of the bill. 

Several students asked how they could become more involved in the debate on this bill. Legislators and staff provided information on how the students could testify or come and shadow someone at the legislature for a day.

Other topics brought up for discussion by the students included infant mortality, childhood immunizations and graduate medical education (GME) funding. The legislators outlined the discussions that have taken place recently at the Statehouse with regard to GME and the physicians in attendance stated that it will be important to try to find a way to address adequate GME funding in addition to increasing the residency slots available. 

Legislative breakfasts took place at all of the OU-HCOM campuses, including Cleveland, Dublin and Athens. Following the breakfast, legislators were taken on a tour of the respective campus locations while students from all three campuses convened via teleconference to hear presentations on health policy basics, population health and payment reform, and the upcoming Presidential election.   

During the afternoon, students participated in several breakout sessions on a myriad of topics, including women’s health, pain management and addiction, Medicaid, mental health, children at risk, and Medicare and long term care.  The session on Medicare held at the Cleveland campus was facilitated by Dr. Hobbs and was very well-received. The AMCNO was pleased to be a part of the OU-HCOM Health Policy Day and we would like to thank the Ohio Osteopathic Association for inviting us to participate in this event.  

To view photos from the event, visit the AMCNO Twitter feed and Facebook page.

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