2023 ENGAGE Student Experience Recap

We connected with UWS doctor of chiropractic students Jessica Settle and Aimee Tanner, attendees of the 2023 American Chiropractic Association’s ENGAGE conference held in Washington, D.C., to recap some highlights of their trip!

Engage Group Shot 1

By: Jessica Settle

Before starting at University of Western States, I heard about an opportunity to be involved in the lobbying/advocation for chiropractic care, but I didn’t exactly know what it was or how I could participate. That was until my first quarter at UWS, when the UWS Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA) executive board at the time presented to new students and discussed the opportunity to go to Washington D.C., to attend the national American Chiropractic Association (ACA) annual conference ENGAGE. I immediately signed up for SACA and was excited about what was to come the following year. Unfortunately, that’s when the Covid-19 pandemic began and put in-person plans on hold. In 2021 and 2022, I participated in the virtual lobbying on the Capitol Hill, which was an awesome experience to witness the various doctors who had done lobbying in the past. The ENGAGE 2022 conference was also the year that UWS was announced as the host site for national SACA annual leadership conference, which fellow doctor of chiropractic students Aimee Tanner, Gretchen Gatzke, and I put together.

Jessica Settle in DC

ENGAGE 2023 was scheduled to be in person, and while Aimee and I were excited to go, we were a little skeptical that it wouldn’t suddenly be switched to a virtual experience as it had in previous years. Much to our surprise, on January 24 Aimee and I were headed to the airport for our 9-hour trek to get to Washington D.C. The one thing I was absolutely dreading about this trip was the three-hour time difference between the west and east coast, but luckily we were able to sleep in on Wednesday before we had our welcome meetings that night to prepare for lobbying. On Thursday, I was able to meet with congressmen and congresswomen, and senators from both Washington and Oregon state. Lobbying in person was truly a unique experience and as students, we were given the opportunity to speak on the Medicare Modernization Bill in meetings. It was very encouraging to have backing from many representatives who were in support of co-sponsoring the bill without any hesitation.

Jessica Settle and Aimee Tanner at ACA

Friday was spent in the SACA executive national board (SNEB) business meeting, where executive board members from each chiropractic school met. This was an opportunity to hear about the year in review of the various committees, and for all of us to vote on the new national chairs. After all of our meetings and to end our trip, Dr. Gary Schultz, UWS chiropractic professor and SACA chapter advisor, took Aimee and I to the infamous Filamina’s Italian restaurant. It was truly a unique experience, with the restaurant being decorated for Valentine’s Day and with delicious food! The trip wrapped up Saturday with “see ya later’s” to the various students, doctors and ACA staff that we had met over the past couple of years!

By: Aimee Tanner

I was lucky to attend the 2023 American Chiropractic Association (ACA) annual conference ENGAGE. It has been many years since I last went to Washington, D.C. and it is just as architecturally diverse as I remember. One of the highlights of the trip was being able to go to Capitol Hill and advocate for the re-introduction of the Medicare Modernization Act. I met with representatives from Oregon, Washington (where I currently live), and Utah (my home state). It was a new experience sitting down and talking with congresspeople and their staff, and I was amazed at how receptive they were and that they were interested in what we had to say. It was empowering to be able to speak at several meetings as well.

The conference was hosted at the Omni Hotel and there was a lot of amazing local cuisine within walking distance. In addition to advocating with representatives, there were socials, educational opportunities, as well as a vendor exhibition going on during the conference. Throughout the week, I was able to meet chiropractic physicians from across the country and mingled with students from other schools.

Spy Museum in DC

As a SACA executive board member, I also participated in the SACA business meeting. This was a new experience for me, since I have never sat on a board before. We had some interesting conversations about what’s next for SACA and voted for  new leadership representatives. Outside of the conference, I visited the Spy Museum. The museum features a lot of history about spy agencies and what they do, as well as a fun interactive way of solving a mystery sometimes involving crawling through vents and hanging onto bars. I even got my own secret identity!

Dr. Brimhall, UWS president, invited UWS ENGAGE attendees to a local restaurant called New Heights. We were joined by past SACA members and Dr. Bobby Maybee, the Oregon delegate representative.  I found my experience attending ENGAGE to be very memorable. I look forward to continuing this education when I become a licensed chiropractor, and will do my part to advocate for the profession moving forward.

Group at ACA Conference on Capitol Hill