Students meet state legislators to advocate for health care

On a recent wintry Wednesday, 10 DMU students rose early not to study, work out or head to class, but instead to advocate for health care, share their stories and answer questions from Iowa state legislators at the University’s annual legislative breakfast at the State Capitol.

From left: Sonia Kumar, D.O.’23; Daniel Smith, D.O.’23; Andrew Philipose, D.O.’23; Senator Pam Jochum, District 50 (Dubuque); DMU President Angela Walker Franklin; and Devon Niewohner, D.P.M.’22

Joining them were DMU President and CEO Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D.; Jodi Cahalan, Ph.D., M.P.H.’01, M.S.’93, PA-C’89, DFAAPA, dean of the College of Health Sciences; Robert Yoho, D.P.M., M.S., FACFAS, dean of the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery; and Sue Huppert, chief external and governmental affairs officer.

“Many people sometimes don’t know what medical students study or what the course of their education and training is, so it was nice to be able to share my experiences and knowledge with lawmakers on the world of medical education,” says Daniel Smith, a first-year osteopathic medicine student and vice president of student affairs for the Class of 2003. “In addition, we also learned a little about the legislative process and initiatives that some of these legislators are pursuing.”

DMU student Devon Niewohner with Representative Linda Upmeyer, District 54 (Cerro Gordo), and Senator Amanda Ragan, District 27 (Cerro Gordo)

One of the students’ goals was to thank legislators for House File 532, provisions of which give preference for residency programs to residents of Iowa, those who earned an undergraduate degree from an Iowa college or university, or who earned a medical degree from a medical school in the state. The bill passed unanimously in the Iowa House and Senate in 2019 and was signed into law by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

Devon Niewohner, a second-year podiatric medicine student who served as the DMU student group’s “captain” for the legislative breakfast, attended the event to talk with “the representatives who ultimately make the vote on issues that directly impact us as students and as future physicians in the state of Iowa.” His second reason: to share his story and journey to podiatric medical school.

“Each of the students has a unique story to tell, and I think that can help when the representatives are talking about health care policy and DMU’s legislative priorities,” he says. “It gives a visual for others about why it matters to move forward on policies related to DMU.”

View more photos on the Des Moines University Facebook page.

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