By Timothy Zhu
This summer I am interning for the National Health Law Program in its Washington, D.C. office. NHeLP engages in health care policy work for underrepresented and disadvantaged populations. Since my background from my undergraduate studies and prior work experience was heavily health care-related, accepting this position seemed like a natural transition for my first-year summer job.
The office is not particularly large, so there is a lot for interns like myself to do. Because health care reform is a cornerstone issue for the current Congress and White House, right off the bat we are afforded the opportunity to attend productive meetings with key Congressmen and leaders from various advocacy and community interest organizations. The NHeLP staff is on a first-name basis with many of them and do not hesitate to include us in these rapid developments. Thus far I have been drafting implementation guidelines to help hospitals meet federal accreditation requirements in order to be legally eligible for Medicare and Medicaid funding. I have also attended hearings on behalf of NHeLP, featuring a veritable Who’s Who of the health care reform movement, in order to record and relay the presentations and developments to staff members who were unable to personally attend.
Due to its public policy-oriented focus, the work schedule here often corresponds with that followed by the federal lawmakers. Consequently, there’s a strong sense of pride and obligation in serving as an essential cog in the machine to pass a monumental piece of legislation. And as the urgency of the legislative process picks up, so does the atmosphere here. That hardly seems to bother the people here—they are truly passionate about their work. They really love what they do, even if it means staying well into the evening every night of the week.
Finally, we work next door to other public interest organizations, namely the National Senior Citizens Law Center and the National Immigration Law Center, so I can have plenty of exposure to other public interest fields and interact with their staff and interns.
Washington, as you all know, is an expensive city to live in, and to that end the generous support of EJF has been essential. I want to thank all the contributors and volunteers who made EJF funding possible.