Public Policy, Medicine Focus for Biomedical Engineering Undergrad

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A trip to a national meeting of experts in healthcare, medicine and public policy was a critical step toward  a career goal of addressing healthcare equality for a biomedical engineering undergraduate.

Samia Ismail earned a travel grant from the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering to attend the group's Public Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2019.

Ismail is a fourth-year biomedical engineering honors student and a 2019 Truman Scholar. The Truman Scholarship is a nationally competitive graduate fellowship for students pursuing careers in public service leadership.

Each year, AIMBE holds a Public Policy Institute conference featuring panels presented by regulatory agencies, industry leaders, policy experts and more.

Panels presented included "Misuse and Subjugation of Science and Public Policy," "Women's Health, Health Policy, and the FDA" and "Best Practices for Communicating with Congress," among others. The organization promises attendees an additional repertoire of information surrounding public policy, including comprehension of related hot-button topics and funding decisions behind federal health policy. 

Ismail said the gathering was an important career step.

The honors student serves as co-director of diversity and inclusion for the U of A Associated Student government and is also active in the Democratic Party of Washington County. She noted the event was a valuable opportunity to  network with other people and women of color with similar aspirations.

The importance of getting involved in the policy-making process, however, is not solely dependent on platforms such as those provided by AIMBE, something Ismael said the program emphasized. "The conference mentioned multiple times that there are many ways to get involved," Ismail said.  "[These] range from serving on citywide advisory committees to advocacy visits to state and federal elected officials to career opportunities in full-time policy formulation."

Ismail learned of the opportunity from her research mentor, Raj Rao, professor and head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

"I am extremely proud of Samia for participating in the AIMBE Public Policy Institute," Rao said. "Students like Samia constitute the next generation of healthcare leaders who will be focused on developing healthcare solutions to benefit many underserved in our communities. I am also extremely thankful to AIMBE for providing Samia with a travel award to attend the workshop." Rao also serves on the AIMBE Academic Council.

Ismail plans to study healthcare and science policy, with the intent of addressing equality in healthcare, after graduation. She said she is considering and applying to various MD/MPP programs across the country.


Kaitlyn Yates, media specialist
Biomedical Engineering

Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering


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