On a mid-February morning, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with the Illinois Senate Staff members and 7 dynamic changemakers from UIC. We met with Senator Durbin and Senator Duckworth’s health policy staff members to discuss needed changes for maintaining MCH and disability leadership training. Dr. Kruti Acharya, Dr. Ann Cutler and Dr. Arden Handler led the group in a strong discussion about what these funding revenues create for the state of Illinois and for the future practitioners in the interdisciplinary programs.
We were advocating for continued support for maternal and child health and disability funding under Title V and the CARES Act. These acts are current legislation that ensures the funding of needed educational programs. We also asked both of the teams to champion maternal and child health policy as there currently is no strong support in congress. Dr. Acharya and Dr. Handler have lead maternal and child health and disability training programs for decades, their efforts being shown in the diversity and caliber of students and leaders they produce.
I spoke of how being a LEND trainee has sharpened my outlook on chronic health care, population health, and foster youth access. The past few months have been nothing short of trying. Seeing people who depend on social services live in fear has made me angry, but also focused. I’m glad to have been able to voice my experience as a health professional student, and also learn what it takes to create the educational and experiential learning experiences I so easily benefit from. Other students that were part of the panel came from UIC School of Public Health and had a variety of experiences working in non-profit, governmental and international organizations all seeking the betterment and increased awareness of public health and disability related needs.
As an aspiring physician, I hope that the privilege of these experiences can continue to be extended to younger generations of leaders. Being a part of LEND and a graduate student in epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago has prepared me for a future of healthcare practice and policy making. It was an honor and privilege to begin my budding “policy advocate” journey alongside Dr. Acharya, Dr. Cutler, Dr. Handler and some of the most hardworking, intelligent and charismatic peers at SPH.