George Washington University med students link medicine and health policy

Stethoscope on medical spreadsheet

Some future doctors are learning as much about the impact of health policy as they are about treating patients in the exam room, reports Kaiser Health News.

For example, after learning about infectious diseases, first-year medical students at George Washington University's medical school then studied all they could about AIDS and HIV policy. At the end of their classroom learning, medical students then presented their ideas for improvements to the U.S. AIDS czar at the White House.

"It was really just a powerful day to see all of our colleagues, just one semester into medical school, with really innovative ideas, at the White House, and getting feedback from the AIDS czar, from all these major directors of health policy for individual states," Jeffrey Roberson, a current George Washington University medical student, told KHN.

Because of the audience--which included a federal Medicaid official and Tennessee's director of AIDS--in the room during the presentations, there's a real possibility that a medical student's proposed medication reminder system for HIV patients in Tennessee will be implemented, the news outlet reports.

The value of this program is it will educate future doctors about the world their patients live in every day. And that's valuable because their patients often spend their days in environments that "promote and perpetuate chronic disease," Lawrence Deyton, M.D., senior associate dean at the medical school who's leading this program, told KHN.

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