Six psychology students from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, traveled to Washington, D.C., in June with a message for Congress: Health-care reform must include interdisciplinary, coordinated care and bring health care to poor and uninsured people.
The students, including grad students Carlos Ojeda and Cedric Turner, met with congressional representatives and helped organize a two-hour congressional briefing, attended by dozens of congressional staff and members of the National Academies of Practice, the interdisciplinary health-care group that sponsored the meeting.
Ojeda and Turner became interested in federal advocacy through their volunteer work at the Tileston Health Clinic in Wilmington, N.C., which provides free health care to indigent people. At Tileston, the students have worked with many people who otherwise have no access to care—an experience that convinced them that the U.S. health-care system needs significant reform. For the briefing, the students brought a patient from their clinic to talk about his search for treatment for multiple sclerosis and coming up empty-handed until he found the free clinic.
"We were trying to promote affordable, multidisciplinary, accessible health care with no economic barriers ... so places like Tileston don't have to be there," says Turner.
The students, who met with legislators and aides the day before the briefing, were surprised by how accessible the representatives were, Ojeda says. As a result, this trip to D.C. will probably not be their last.
"For the sake of mankind and our future jobs, I think it's extremely important to get involved in health-care activism," Turner says.