In a year of historic reform to the US health care system, a group of leading Latino doctors is now poised to shape policy and advocacy efforts at the local, state and national levels. The mid-career physicians from across the nation recently completed a week-long institute hosted by the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) and RCLA to enhance their knowledge of the policymaking process and equip them to make change on key issues, including workforce diversity and obesity prevention.
“Latinos are the fastest growing population in the United States, but too often policy discussions and decisions do not take into account the impact on Hispanic communities,” said RCLA Executive Director Bethany Godsoe. “The NYU Wagner Institute was designed to help these accomplished and dedicated doctors lead the way in ensuring that health issues affecting Latinos are at the top of the legislative agenda.”
The institute, from July 12-16, is part of a year-long National Hispanic Medical Association Leadership Fellowship for Hispanic physicians from across the US. Discussions with institute faculty shed light on how current policies affect the health status of the Hispanic community. The sessions also provided a framework for the doctors to analyze policy proposals and appraise their potential for improving the health status of the Hispanic community.
The program drew on the expertise of faculty from NYU Wagner, the NYU School of Medicine, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
In addition, fellows obtained hands-on experience through site visits to the East Harlem District Public Health Office and the New York Center for Health Workforce Studies, and engaged in discussions with senior health care leaders, advocacy, immigration and communications experts.
At the institute the doctors formulated action plans to advocate for policy changes to increase diversity at all levels of the health workforce and advance obesity prevention. The physicians’ next step will be meeting with leaders from the White House, US Department of Health and Human Services, Congress, think tanks and national organizations with interests in health policy in fall 2010.
“The NHMA Leadership Fellowship prepares physicians to take the valuable knowledge they’ve gained from treating patients and running health centers to head public health agencies that promote good health for Hispanics across the country,” said Dr. Elena Rios, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association. “Our fellows are leaving New York with practical skills and strategies to influence the policymaking process in ways that will improve Hispanics’ health outcomes now and for years to come.”