Med Students' Proposal Awarded Jefferson Trust Grant

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Med Students' Proposal Awarded Jefferson Trust Grant


First-year UVA medical students Sarah Podwicka (l) and Alex Hickman (r) pose with proud mentor Carolyn Engelhard, MPA, Professor of Health Policy, following the awarding of their Jefferson Trust grant. The students approached Engelhard to discuss their proposal after hearing her speak on two occasions about health policy issues.


Two first year medical students from the School of Medicine were among those receiving grants from the UVA Alumni Association's Jefferson Trust for their proposal of a pilot program to develop awareness of health policy, beginning in the first two years of a U.Va. medical education, consisting of  six discussions in the fall semester, with 50 first- and second-year medical students in a debate of selected health policy issues covering a variety of topics.

Alex Hickman and Sarah Podwika, graduate students in the School of Medicine, received the $5,000 grant during ceremonies on the south steps of the Rotunda on Friday, April 18th, as part of Founder’s Day ceremonies at the University. "I'm just so proud of these two young ladies," said PHS Professor of Health Policy Carolyn Engelhard, whom the students sought out for guidance when preparing their proposal. Engelhard is Thread Leader for Health Policy in the NextGen curriculum at the UVA School of Medicine.

Titled “Health Policy Advocates,” the proposal’s executive summary outlines the need to raise the awareness of health policy issues starting at the beginning of the medical education journey.

“The health care system in the United States is in need of dire repair: current trends in spending are financially unsustainable; meanwhile, as the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, hospitals and physicians across the country scramble to enact changes required by the statute. As first year medical students, we are entering a profession that is the focus of national attention, and one that requires immediate action. Since entering medical school in August, we have realized that we understand little about the changing landscape of medicine in front of us. And so, while health policy is included in the School of Medicine’s curriculum in the third and fourth years, we believe it is imperative that our medical students begin the dialogue about health policy now, in our first and second years of study. Our mission is to help produce a generation of new doctors equipped to enter and contribute to the conversation on both the national and local level: whether UVA medical graduates contribute directly to policy, or simply explain that policy within their own clinics, it is our belief that only by understanding the health system we are a part of can we provide the best possible care within that system. To that end, we intend to launch a pilot program designed to develop and cultivate awareness in healthcare policy beginning in the first two years of the UVA medical education.

“The pilot for Health Policy Advocates will consist of a series of six discussions to be held in the fall semester of 2014. Professor Carolyn Engelhard will guide a group of fifty students from the first and second year medical classes in a student-driven debate regarding selected health policy issues covering a variety of topics. Each session will be moderated by interdisciplinary leaders from various fields - medicine, law, economics, business, and others - and by a medical resident, so as to provide a cross section of perspective and experience; students will be expected to research each session’s topic and present their own side of the issues. With student input and with faculty guidance, it is our intention that this pilot ultimately provides the framework that will allow the incorporation of the study of health care policy across all four years of the medical curriculum.”


Read about the other recipients of this year’s Jefferson Trust grants here.


U.Va. Alumni Association’s Jefferson Trust.

Established in 2004, the Jefferson Trust is an unrestricted endowment that distributes grants annually through a University-wide program. The trust supports a variety of initiatives that enhance teaching, scholarship and research; programs that allow faculty and students to work closely together while engaging in hands-on learning; and programs that allow the University community to reach out to other communities – locally, nationally and globally.