Jacob Altholz, MD | Health Policy Academy Fellow
What did you gain from your year-long experience as a Health Policy Academy Fellow?
Advocacy as a simple noun can often fail to capture the nuance and complexity of the medical system we operate in. Medical professionals, on some level, are advocating all the time, whether it be for our patients while practicing in an emergency department or for our colleagues sitting in a local meeting. Sometimes it is even larger, advocating for an entire population when representing the profession of medicine to Congress, for example. Even this delineation fails to recognize that there are so many different skills and knowledge-sets that go into advocacy as a verb. It was those kinds of skills I was hoping to build as I applied to the Health Policy Academy just over a year ago.
My experience in advocacy started as a medical student, advocating on behalf of my fellow students and colleagues both at a local level and through the AAMC. Transitioning to residency, I wanted to continue that path and work, and the EMRA/ACEP Health Policy Fellowship was a perfect way to launch me into both learning the skills I wanted and then putting them to use.
Why would you encourage others to apply for Health Policy Academy?
By far the most engaging part of the fellowship was ACEP Council when the Board and Fellows, alongside one another, came together to help represent residents’ interests on the national stage. With a vote that counted just as much as anyone else’s, we organized, deliberated, and championed the causes we knew would be relevant to our colleagues. That experience alone was worth the fellowship. Those who wish to learn the ins and outs, those who won’t shy away from being referred to as a policy wonk, are perfect candidates for the fellowship.
What specific policy (or policies) do you hope to focus on, and advocate for, as a direct result of your involvement in Health Policy Academy? In other words, what issues affecting the realm of EM are important to you?
I plan on continuing in this work as much as possible, both on a local and a national level. More than any other issue I am passionate about access to care, hoping to ensure that as many individuals as I can help will have access to timely, affordable health care. Along those same lines, I am passionate about healthcare operations and health disparities, two separate yet intersecting facets of medicine that can serve to facilitate, or hinder, an individual reaching the care they deserve. It is my hope that the competencies I have gained in the fellowship will help me reach these goals that much more.