Twenty-nine medical students gather on the east steps of the Capitol on April 5.

AUSTIN–As part of the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA) “First Tuesday at the Capitol” events, 29 first-, second- and third-year students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Medicine visited the state capitol in Austin on April 5 to attend a 2011 Texas legislative session.

Since 2003, First Tuesdays has provided an opportunity for physicians, residents and medical students to speak with their senators and representatives regarding health and health education related issues. The April 5 event focused especially on medical students and residents, funding for medical schools and graduate medical education.

Transportation from Bryan-College Station and Temple to Austin was provided by the TMA. Students started the day with an issues briefing at 7 a.m., followed by visits with legislators, committee hearings and the House of Representatives and Senate sessions for the remainder of the day.

First-year students (l to r) Danny Peters, Srijna Nandivada, Riddhi Patel at the rotunda

“The physician involvement and activism was truly impressive,” said Abby Rodriguez, first-year medical student. “Each physician I encountered seemed to participate in First Tuesdays on a regular basis and was well-versed in the details of proposed bills that would potentially impact the state health care system. Even though all of those physicians are incredibly busy, they still dedicate their time to ensure that our state protects physicians’ rights and patients’ rights now and in the future.”

Rachael Anderson, first-year medical student and treasurer of the TAMHSC-College of Medicine TMA chapter, said, “This First Tuesday was a great experience to interact with our state leaders and let them know the issues most important to the medical community. We talked to 30 senators and representatives from around our area and voiced our concerns on funding for graduate medical school education, Medicare, medical school loan repayment programs and patient safety.”

“Overall, First Tuesday was an incredibly gratifying experience,” Anderson continued. “We were able to learn from our representatives as well as educate them on the issues most important to the medical community.”

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