NYITCOM student sitting on a lawn holding a pen


NYITCOM Students Gain Advocacy-focused Opportunities With Support From Esteemed Medical Foundation

May 16, 2024

The College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) has secured a two-year $20,000 award from the Medical, Educational and Scientific Foundation (MESF), a subsidiary 501C3 of the Medical Society of the State of New York, to provide medical students with valuable public policy-focused learning experiences. 

Physicians are effective advocates for public health legislation and have influenced policies addressing medical insurance coverage, secondhand smoke, physician burnout, research funding, and many other areas. By seeing firsthand how legislation is crafted, medical students can begin playing an active role in helping to shape legislation that bridges the gap between policy and the realities of clinical practice. In turn, they will be well-positioned to champion the needs of their future patients and the medical profession.

With MESF’s award, NYITCOM is now offering two competitive experiential learning opportunities to advance medical students’ knowledge of health legislation. Available for NYITCOM-Long Island students, experiences include a four-week health policy elective for select fourth-year medical students and a two-year congressional policy fellowship for two third-year students.

The health policy elective trains up to 12 fourth-year NYITCOM students for a four-week rotation focused on public health and health-related legislative issues. Working alongside elected officials and public administrators, students conduct a research project addressing a current healthcare-focused bill of their choosing. Students will present their findings to legislators at the end of the four weeks.

Each academic year, one third-year medical student will be selected to participate in the congressional health policy fellowship. Students are selected in their second year by a competitive process to participate in the program during their third and fourth years of medical school. Applications are available to all second-year NYITCOM-Long Island students. Selected fellows are required to attend multiple meetings at the local, state, and national levels while researching and helping propose public policy changes to address a particular health issue. In addition, fellows will travel to legislative offices and meet with health policy experts to develop a deeper understanding of how government affairs impact the medical field.

The curricula for both initiatives were developed by Bernadette Riley, D.O., professor and director of the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome/Hypermobility Treatment Center, a longtime health policy advocate who serves on the boards and committees of multiple societies, including the Medical Society of the State of New York.

“As physicians, we’re uniquely qualified to positively affect legislative change because we’ve directly seen the impact that healthcare policies have on our patients,” says Riley. “With MESF’s generous support, we now have the opportunity to train civic-minded clinicians who will help bridge the gap between politics and patient care, allowing them to advocate for better health outcomes both inside and outside the clinic.”

Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal nonprofit professional organization for physicians, residents, and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.