2020 ENGAGE Student Experience Recap

We connected with UWS DC students Caitlin Jones and Leandra Ramsay, attendees of the 2020 American Chiropractic Association’s ENGAGE conference held in Washington, D.C., to recap some highlights of their trip!

Caitlin Jones, 6th quarter DC student

ENGAGE conference

Being from Washington, D.C., and working for a youth advocacy program before coming to UWS, I immediately jumped at the chance to join the UWS Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA) to go advocate on Capitol Hill for chiropractic physicians. Every year, SACA joins the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) in Washington, D.C., for the ENGAGE conference (formerly NCLC) to advocate, attend seminars, meet practicing chiropractic physicians, as well as mingle with students from the other schools across the country.  

This year, 32 students from UWS made the trek and it was amazing! I took a red eye flight with a few people so that we could get some sights in before the conference started Wednesday night. We nerded out at the Natural History Museum looking at dinosaur vertebrae, saw the monuments and grabbed an amazing breakfast at Ted’s Bulletin with homemade pop tarts. After a long day of sightseeing, we got some rest, because Thursday was our long, exciting day on the Hill.

A big part of ENGAGE is to go to meetings with senators, representatives and their staff. In the past, ACA has discussed a few bills at their meetings, but this year we focused only on H.R. 3654, which allows Medicare patients to see chiropractic physicians for more than just spinal manipulation. We were seeking representatives to co-sponsor the bill and vote for it to pass when it came time. If passed, chiropractic physicians would be able to provide the level of treatment needed to Medicare patients. In addition to spinal manipulation, chiropractic physicians would be able to manipulate extremities, provide a physical exam, order diagnostic imaging and use the conservative care treatments that we have been taught and are experts in.

After advocacy day, there were a number of amazing seminars to go to. I attended one on low back pain and it reaffirmed everything that Dr. LeFebvre teaches in Spinal Disorders. There was also a great talk on sports injuries that focused on treating the whole patient and how to analyze athletic injuries. The last seminar I went to was one of my favorites as it was talking about how to get patients motivated to do their rehab through gamification. There were some really great topics and presentations, it was difficult to choose which to go to!

It was a privilege to be able to go to D.C. to advocate on the Hill, meet with chiropractic physicians and students from across the country and get to know my classmates more outside of campus. It was an amazing opportunity and it inspired me to run for SACA’s Legislative Rep so that I can be more involved in ENGAGE 2021. I’m honored that my peers were as motivated as I was an we have a new SACA executive board with an amazing vision for our school and ENGAGE 2021!

Leandra Ramsay, 6th quarter DC student and Canadian native

Leandra Ramsay

This was my second time attending the ACA conference in Washington, D.C. Last year was so much fun I couldn’t wait to go again! Since I wasn’t a rookie this year, lobbying was a lot more fun and exciting because I knew what to expect. Being a Canadian student, many people didn’t understand why I wanted to go to ENGAGE in the first place and quite honestly neither did I the first year I attended. I mainly went because D.C. was always a place that I had wanted to see. What started as a tourism mission ended with new friends, new experiences and an eagerness to eventually lobby back in Canada to help improve the chiropractic profession back home.

The first day we were in D.C., Caitlin (Jones) showed off her extensive knowledge of the city and made sure we didn’t go hungry. After taking a red-eye flight from Portland, breakfast and coffee were top priorities. After eating, we walked down toward all the attractions stopping to view the White House and meandering through the Museum of Natural History. Day two was a big day. Everyone dressed to impress for their meetings on the Hill. In small groups, we met with representatives from both the House of Representatives and Senate to talk about Bill H.R. 3654 in hopes to improve Medicare benefits so that chiropractors have a wider range of billable treatment options. The day ended with an amazing dinner a Filomena’s, a wonderful Italian restaurant with homemade pasta and cheesecake. Dinner was provided by Dr. Brimhall and gave us students a chance to interact with some of the school’s staff and faculty in a professional but laid-back setting. If I’m being honest, this is the main reason I came back to D.C. for a second time – believe me, it’s worth the trip.

The rest of the conference featured multiple seminars on various educational topics to choose from and an expo with more freebies than I could fit in my carry-on.

My experience at ENGAGE was one I will never forget. From seeing the amazing architecture and history that the Capital has to offer to making a difference on the Hill for the future of our profession, the Washington trip is something all students should be able to experience. I have learned so much about the political influence in health care and how patients often suffer due to decisions that are made from higher up. I hope to build on this experience when I return home to Canada and get more involved with my provincial and national associations so that I can help improve health care benefits for my future patients. If we all could learn to be activists for our patients, I believe it would make us better doctors.

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