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MPH Students Advocate in D.C.

Master of Public Health Students Lobby for Public Health in Washington, D.C.

Master of Public Health students traveled with Dr. Mike Barnes to advocate for public health last month in October at the Health Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C.

The Washington D.C. Health Advocacy Summit is a conference targeted to public health professionals. The purpose is of the advocacy summit is to advance public health priorities.

The students conducted 12 face-to- face visits in legislative offices, which involved making “asks” as prepared by the summit organizers. This also enabled students to sustain relationships with legislative staff in home state offices.

“Each group of students acted as constituents,” explained Dr. Barnes. “They lobbied for health issues in each of their states of residence.”

For example, the students advocated for improved coordination of best practices between public and private organizations; continued support to implement evidence-based and culturally competent interventions to reduce inequities; and to test the value of prevention specialists (health educators) as a cost-effective way to improve Medicare and Medicaid practices within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

One MPH student said, “The greatest value given to me during the conference was an ignited passion for wanting to help reduce health inequities among vulnerable populations. Before attending the conference, I was skeptical about legislative advocacy. Now that I have experienced advocacy in action, I recognize it as a powerful and necessary tool for causing population health changes.”

Dr. Barnes said, “I think a great benefit of the advocacy summit is that students saw how they could apply what they are learning to real-world situations. The students acted as public health experts.”

He continued, “I am proud how the MPH students represented their home state and BYU at the advocacy summit. I believe they have a great capacity to make a difference. These legislative issues are very important.”

MPH Students advocates.png

Written by Lindsey Trendler, with contribution from Dr. Michael Barnes

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