Health care fellowship leads to congressional report and hearing
A position as a congressional fellow through a program from VCU School of Pharmacy, ACCP and ASHP led to a leadership role in researching and writing a congressional report on the intersection of health care and climate change.
With the U.S. health care system responsible for an estimated 10% of national greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee has issued “Health Care and the Climate Crisis: Preparing America’s Health Care Infrastructure,” a report detailing how providers and trade associations are preparing for extreme weather events and reducing their carbon footprint.
Tatiana Bujnoch, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy-American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-Virginia Commonwealth University congressional health care policy fellow for 2021-22, worked closely with Capitol Hill staffers and legislators to create the report, from survey development for the formal request for information to organizing data analysis and report preparation.
Bujnoch earned her Pharm.D. from Northeastern University in Boston and Master of Science in pharmacy administration and leadership from the University of Houston. Her postgraduate training was in health system pharmacy administration and leadership at Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston.
Working as a pharmacist during the pandemic underscored to her the importance of health policy, Bujnoch told SoP News in 2021. “I spoke many times with patients who couldn’t afford medications or who were afraid they couldn’t afford treatment for COVID.”
We asked Bujnoch for her insights on the congressional experience.
SoP NEWS: How did being a fellow impact your ability to work on this project?
BUJNOCH: Being a fellow allowed me to bring my background and training in research and managing projects to the Hill. In addition, as a fellow, I was not necessarily assigned to a particular policy area so I was able to step up where there was a need. I had the flexibility to take on this project and help ensure it was moved forward.
What is an important thing you learned from doing it?
The most important thing I learned was to be open to learn about new topic areas. I never imagined working on the intersection of the climate crisis and health care nor realized it would be a priority on Capitol Hill. But by being open and saying yes to working on this project, I learned about a unique subject matter area and was able to participate in groundbreaking research that will likely continue to gain attention. I hope to continue to use these ideas and learning in the future.
What was the biggest surprise?
The biggest surprise was the amount of focus on research, particularly with the Health Subcommittee on Ways and Means, to move the needle forward on important policies. I never realized how much work the Hill does to drive forward novel policy ideas and does not totally work in a reactionary manner.
What’s next for you?
I am currently working as an external affairs associate with Morgan Health at JPMorgan Chase. In this role I am focused on policy and health equity.
The fellowship program, directed by VCU School of Pharmacy associate professor Kristin Zimmerman, was founded 15 years ago under the leadership of professor Gary R. Matzke. See more about the ACCP-ASHP-VCU Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellow program at this link or contact director Kristin Zimmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.