The Bureau of Emerging Leaders (BEL) has a resolutions workgroup specifically geared towards advocating for the osteopathic profession. This workgroup, led by resident Sara Lohbauer, DO, is composed of osteopathic medical students, residents, and newly practicing physicians who are working diligently to turn simple ideas into policy advancing the osteopathic profession.
In addition to drafting resolutions, the workgroup reviews resolutions submitted for AOA House of Delegates (HOD) discussion and determines which resolutions will be discussed at the BEL Caucus. Now, you might be asking, “What IS a resolution?” In this case, a resolution is a formal written statement to take action toward completing a certain goal or ask of the AOA. Once voted on and passed, a resolution becomes policy. It may sound simple, but resolution writing requires a lot of research and well thought out wording to increase the likelihood of getting passed.
No matter where you are in your medical career, you can participate in advocacy. Legislative involvement comes in many different forms (including policy writing) and comprises various levels of representation – local, state, or federal governments.
Dr. Lohbauer has had the opportunity, through both the AOA and AACOM, to pursue both advocacy and policy writing, giving her a certain expertise. She has a passion for assisting people by fine tuning their ideas and turning their visions into policy. According to Dr. Lohbauer, it is extremely important for medical students, residents, and newly practicing physicians to be involved in legislation because “through these actions you are shaping the future of the profession as well as your future work environment.”
Students and physicians should be aware of policies and discussions happening right now and be informed of the impact on the osteopathic profession as well as on current and future patients.
Currently, there is a resolution that the BEL resolutions workgroup has been preparing for presentation at this year’s AOA HOD. As of now, the resolution does not have a title, yet it has the potential to make a big impact on how the residency interviewing process will proceed. It focuses on combating new challenges involved in the residency interview process and tries to make the process more transparent so that those applying to residency can make the best-informed decision. The inspiration for this resolution was the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Dr. Lohbauer’s words: “The end of 2019 and the start of 2020 shook the entire globe and stopped all normal functions. One of the functions impacted by this global pandemic was the residency match process. Traditionally an all in-person process turned into an entirely virtual process. Now, as we have learned to live in a world with COVID-19, some programs in the residency interviewing process have started to return to in-person interviews while other programs have opted to continue pursuing the virtual process. This has led to great confusion among the graduating osteopathic medical students with regard to pursuing options for interviewing.”
With many programs electing to continue virtual interviews while others are slowly going back to in-person interviews, it can be hard for graduating osteopathic medical students to determine which interview type is best for them, considering travel expenses, convenience vs. in-person opportunities, etc. Ultimately, the goal of this resolution is to assess how virtual interviews impact the match rate for osteopathic medical students.
Currently, this resolution is undergoing submission to the AOA HOD, which will take place July 21-23, 2023. The HOD is an annual meeting made up of voting delegates from each divisional society within the AOA. This includes each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, osteopathic physicians serving in the U.S. military, and student representatives from each osteopathic medical college. The resolution created by the BEL resolutions workgroup will be sure to make a big impact at this year’s HOD. It will be exciting to follow along in July to see what discussion their resolution elicits and what the final decision will be.
The BEL’s resolution is just one example of how impactful political involvement can be. As stated above, there are several routes to advocate for the betterment of the osteopathic profession and medicine in general, whether it be in medical education, the Match process, eliminating discrimination, etc. I challenge you to give some thought to ways you can participate in advocacy!