Providing Science to Improve the Public’s Health: A Fellow’s View from the Office of the US Surgeon General

The latest virtual issue of PS features articles written by alumni of the Congressional Fellowship Program (CFP) from 2010 to 2015. The CFP fellows serve yearlong placements in congressional and executive offices, and they chronicle their firsthand experiences in the pages of PS. Enjoy the full virtual issue here.

Providing Science to Improve the Public’s Health: A Fellow’s View from the Office of the US Surgeon General

PSC 49 V2 CoverDawn Alley, University of Maryland

“As America’s doctor, The US Surgeon General provides Americans with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury. As a scientist interested in translating evidence to improve the public’s health, spending a year as a fellow in the Office of the US Surgeon General has been the opportunity of a lifetime.

I applied for the Health and Aging Policy Fellows program this year because I wanted to participate in this unique moment in health policymaking, in which the implementation of the Affordable Care Act paved the way for an expanded emphasis on improving population health. Historically, health policy has really focused on health care policy. Issues such as expanding health care access, reducing health care costs, and improving health care quality are incredibly important, but they often are not tied directly to improving population health.

A large body of evidence suggests that the air we breathe, the education we receive, and the homes we live in affect our health as much as the medical care we receive. Because these social determinants influence our health and our ability to manage our health care needs, they determine how likely we are to end up in the doctor’s office or hospital in the first place. In fact, investing in behavioral and environmental prevention strategies is more effective at saving lives and saving money than expanding health insurance coverage or increasing quality of care alone.” Read More.

PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 45 / Issue 03 / July 2012, pp 580-581