Earlier this summer we welcomed our summer policy & government relations interns to our DC office. Eric and Cami are part of the bleeding disorders community and were chosen to participate in a 10-week internship because of their leadership qualities and interest in the field of policy and advocacy. Throughout the summer, Eric and Cami held the following responsibilities:
- Gained legislative, policy, and advocacy training
- Attended hearings and Capitol Hill office visits
- Worked on projects with Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA)
- Toured a plasma donation center
- Authored policy-specific issue briefs
Thank you to Baxalta for giving HFA a grant to make this internship possible. Learn more by reading about Eric’s experience:
What was your favorite part of your summer at HFA?
I really enjoyed the flow of the summer as a whole, and the pacing of the program. To be able to come into the office and have something new and engaging to do every week was a gift. It felt like a really seamless and natural transition from my experience as a community member to an active and more “targeted” advocate. Thetitle of “Policy and Government Relations Intern” was a little daunting at first, but over the course of the past couple of months, I’ve definitely grown into it, and loved the process.
What was the most surprising thing you learned over the summer?
I was really surprised by how many spaces HFA is working in. There is so much going on in Washington D.C. that pertains directly to our community: insurance, regulations, emerging markets, potential cures, the list truly goes on. It was also excellent to see that the bleeding disorders community is very much involved with other patient advocacy groups representing a wide range of illnesses. I think that the approach of collectivism, especially on the Hill, is a great idea.
What was the most important thing you learned over the summer?
For a long time, I was very disengaged from the community. I am a very lucky hemophiliac, I exercise, take my medicine like clockwork, and haven’t had a serious bleed in quite a few years. However, during this internship, I learned that my disassociated young adult years were possible because of the hard work that organizations like HFA do every day. My access to my medicine is by no means guaranteed. For me to continue my simple hemophiliac life, I now view it as necessary for me to be involved in the community, working to have my voice heard on the Hill.
How has this internship helped you to become a stronger advocate and leader?
Well, at a very basic level, I’ve been shown the necessity to advocate. My “switch” has been turned on, and I’m engaged. Secondly, I’ve been equipped with a lot of tools to assist me in my advocacy work going forward. I’ve been introduced to the major players in the various spaces that HFA works in. I’ve also learned the lingo (and a slew of acronyms). Maybe most importantly, I’ve gained a lot of confidence that I deserve a place at the table.
How are you going to stay involved in the bleeding disorders community?
No matter what my next step in life is, I plan on staying engaged in the community. My involvement will now be through the lens of experience I’ve had from my time at HFA. I will also continue my lifelong involvement in camp for campers with serious illnesses (including bleeding disorders). I also hope to be able to find my way to Washington D.C. and HFA itself for Fly-Ins and any other time the patient’s voice needs to be heard on Capitol Hill.