Why Study Public Health Policy?

While physicians receive an innate understanding of the intricate functions of the human body during medical school and in residency, many are not as well versed when it comes to the United States healthcare system. The George Washington School of Medicine & Health Sciences is striving to change this trend.

G.W. is offering a three-week fellowship in health policy for medical students to help facilitate a better understanding of the healthcare system they are about to enter. The program involves lectures from healthcare policy experts in and around D.C. Students will also have the opportunity to visit federal health care facilities and agencies, as well as Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court.

The fellowship is led by Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan. Dr. Mullan is a pediatrician and has been the head the program for over a decade. He recounts his own experience during medical school and states, “the notion of engaging with public policy or being concerned with the state of the future of [health care] service delivery in the U.S. was not remotely a part of our training.”

This prompted the tour of a local nonprofit health center run by Unity Health, which provided great insight for program participants. They were able to experience and see how patients are at risk without proper insurance coverage and how this negatively impacts public health. However, they are also able to witness local efforts to improve the overall health of less fortunate individuals.

According to Dr. Mullan, medical residency is an optimal time to teach policy because newly trained doctors have experienced enough of the healthcare industry to pinpoint where there are flaws. It is believed that medical residents are often in an idealistic position, and they are more apt to seek out areas of improvement. Sparking this type of interest early on sets the stage for prolonged awareness, and this prolonged awareness can lead to change. In keeping with this theme, Dr. Mullan is expanding the fellowship to Kaiser-Permanente at three sites in California.

To further the reach of this program, Dr. Mullan is expanding the fellowship to Kaiser-Permanente at three sites in California. You can view more details on this by accessing the full article by Julie Rovner at http://khn.org/news/for-doctors-in-training-a-dose-of-health-policy-can-help-the-medicine-go-down/.

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