Earlier this summer we welcomed our summer policy and government relations interns to our D.C. office. La’Brittinee and Paul 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, La’Brittinee and Paul:
- Gained legislative, policy, and advocacy training
- Attending hearings and Capitol Hill office visits
- Worked on Federal and State projects
- Toured a plasma donation center; and
- Assisted other staff members with additional projects
Thank you, Shire, and CSL Behring for their unrestricted advocacy grant to make these internships possible. Please read on to learn more about La’Brittinee and Paul’s experiences this summer in D.C.
What was your favorite part of your summer at HFA?
La’Brittinee: My favorite part of my summer at HFA was the day on Capitol Hill. I was able to connect with people within the bleeding disorder community from across the United States and advocate on health policy. This opportunity served as an experience of what I would like to do in my lifetime profession.
Paul: My favorite part of the summer with HFA was definitely all the government interactions I had from participating in HFA’s Patient Fly-in to attending committee hearings. Speaking with legislators during the first week was a really important experience making sure my voice was heard and understood. Also, the committee hearings were also my other favorite part about being here at HFA. These committee hearings gave me raw information, opinions, and debates that helped me learn part of what healthcare is all about.
What was the most surprising thing you learned over the summer?
La’Brittinee: The most surprising thing I have learned this summer has been research skills. Being that this was a policy and advocacy internship, research was one of the last things I expected to be doing while here. I didn’t realize that research is the first step in effectively carrying out any advocacy and/or policy. Research I conducted while at HFA strengthened my research and writing skills. These learning experiences are things that will positively influence my final years of college and future years of employment.
Paul: The most surprising thing I learned this summer would have to be how extremely complex health care really is. Over the course of these ten weeks, health care has been my sole focus of study and even after all this time, I still feel like there is so much more to it that I do not even know or understand.
What was the most important thing you learned over the summer?
La’Brittinee: The most important thing I have learned this summer is how to work in an office environment. This internship was my first opportunity to experience working in an office environment long-term. The experience taught me a lot about professionalism and how I can further improve myself for the future. Being responsible for carrying myself in a professional manner while being able to watch my superiors conduct themselves provided many opportunities for learning.
Paul: I believe that the most important thing that I learned this summer would have to be how important committee hearings are. These committee hearings give the public an opportunity to see what Representatives or Senators have to say on a certain topic. Several times throughout the internship after a committee hearing I could see how messages could be misinterpreted or misconstrued. I appreciated going to these hearings and getting an unfiltered view of what members said. Then I wrote about each experience to give the rest of a staff an opportunity to know what is happening within these committees.
How has this internship helped you to become a stronger advocate and leader?
La’Brittinee: This internship helped me become a stronger advocate and leader by teaching me how to advocate effectively. Anyone can have an opinion and/or want to make a change, but it takes skill to achieve your advocacy goals. HFA taught me many of the elements that make up these skills, such as having transparent communication, remaining persistent, and being unbiased in advocacy efforts. These skills and many more have made me a better advocator, leader, and employee.
Paul: This internship has helped me become a stronger advocate and leader by teaching me how to access and find specific resources that have always been available to the public. With this knowledge and acquired skills, I have the opportunity to know in advance how certain Congressmen feel about important issues and be able to tailor my advocacy work to influence their stance on these issues.
How are you going to stay involved in the bleeding disorders community?
La’Brittinee: I plan to stay involved with the bleeding disorders community by becoming an active member of my state foundation’s advocacy efforts. I will use the skills acquired from HFA to assist my state in building a stronger advocacy foundation. I would like to assist them in carrying out the advocacy projects I proposed in my advocacy plan and make them more aware of the assistance HFA is willing to offer. I also plan to continue my volunteer work with the state’s hemophilia summer camp.
Paul: Before coming to Washington D.C. my family and I have been very involved with the Arizona Hemophilia Association (AHA). I plan to continue staying involved with the AHA and perhaps benefit them even more with my newfound skills regarding policy and legislative action. I look forward knowing what I can do to help my community more effectively.