Medical Center "Enrolls" Congressional Staffers

August 23, 2000

Imagine going through medical school in just three days. Fourteen "students" will do just that Aug. 28-30. Project Medical Education (PME)¾a partnership of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and 28 member institutions, including the University of Rochester¾ brings members of Congress and their staff to academic medical centers where they learn about the unique role of medical schools and teaching hospitals in our nation's healthcare system.

"Our goal is to heighten awareness of how our activities are linked to public funding and policy decisions that are being made in Washington," says Karen Pryor, director of Government Relations at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "We want to send them back with a clearer understanding of the complexity of medical education and how it relates to patient care and research."

Launched in 1999, PME grew out of initial research by the AAMC and anecdotal feedback from government relations representatives that lawmakers and staff members responsible for health-related legislation¾while appreciating the value of biomedical research and patient care¾had only a limited understanding of their relationship to the training of physicians. What has evolved is a dynamic, campus-based model education program aimed at helping congressional staff understand how the nation's doctors are trained, what makes the process unique and why it is so costly.

So, for two and a half days, representatives from eight congressional offices will make their way through the Medical Center as students. They will experience a white coat ceremony, share time with a physician researcher joined by a patient and her family, visit basic science labs, and talk with faculty, residents and students. At a Match Day ceremony they will receive "assignments" for hospital field trips and rounds. Sessions on healthcare financing and clinical trials and drug development will be balanced by a tour of community education and service sites.

Those taking part in the PME program include representatives from the offices of:

  • Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
  • Senator Charles E. Schumer
  • Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter
  • Congressman Tom Reynolds
  • Congressman John J. LaFalce
  • Congressman Jack Quinn
  • Congressman Amory Houghton, Jr.
  • Congressman Vito Fossella

Other medical schools that have hosted congressional delegations include University of California at Los Angeles, Duke, and Columbia University in conjunction with New York University School of Medicine.

Photo opportunity: From 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29, the "students" will be making clinical rotations through various parts of Strong Memorial Hospital. If you are interested in covering their visit, call 275-3676.

For Media Inquiries:
Susan Fandel
(585) 273-4494
Email Susan Fandel