Contributed by: Erik Hanson, Class of 2019
On Friday, October 23, 2015 I had the opportunity to attend the West Virginians for Affordable Health Care conference and fundraiser held at the University of Charleston. I was honored represent the School of Pharmacy at such an impressive event for such an important cause. The keynote speaker, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell, is a very charismatic and eloquent speaker and passion for her cause is unquestionable. The amount of support from each and every person in the room was very moving- and, while she is a very professional and powerful person, Secretary Burwell was still very approachable and friendly. Having the opportunity to attend the West Virginians for Affordable Health Care fund raising event was certainly one of the most impactful events in my academic career.
Through this experience, I learned that, even though one person can hold immense passion for a cause, it really does “take a village.” Secretary Burwell and her team are making great strides in achieving affordable health care for all, especially the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides coverage for services such as doctor visits, hospital visits, prescriptions, vision care, and dental care.
While I’m extremely appreciative for the opportunity to attend the event, I wish it were something that the entire school of pharmacy could attend. Events like this make our time in school feel so much more than learning in a classroom. As future pharmacists we can have a major impact in ensuring that everyone has access to affordable health care. Secretary Burwell saw the West Virginians for Affordable Health Care as a calling- and because of that, they are heading towards improving Medicaid, supporting health equity for minority communities, encouraging stronger family leave policies, and pushing for better reimbursement for primary care providers- to name a few. As aspiring pharmacists, we all have a responsibility to make a difference for our patients and our community. Individuals like Secretary Burwell encourage pharmacists and other health care providers to advocate for our community, our patients, and each other.