Recipients of AcademyHealth’s Presidential Scholarship for the AcademyHealth Institute on Advocacy and Public Policy were invited to blog about their experiences during the 2013 National Health Policy Conference. The following post is written by Christopher Dy, M.D., a resident of orthopaedic surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery of New York. I arrived in Washington with mixed emotions – I was excited to be selected as a presidential scholar, but I was admittedly intimidated by the novelty of the experience. As an orthopaedic surgery resident, I am accustomed to approaching patient care on an individual level. But attending the NHPC brought me out of my comfort zone – I was suddenly immersed in an environment where brilliant researchers were engaging each other about how to improve patient care on a much larger level. To be honest, I was humbled at how much I didn’t know. Each of the conference sessions demonstrated how the landscape of health care delivery is changing rapidly, prompting me to reflect on how these elements of change will affect the delivery of surgical care in a post-ACA environment. While many of the NHPC attendees were already familiar with the intricacies and challenges of health policy reform, I thought it was remarkable to learn more about the “nuts-and-bolts” of this process. I am certain that many clinicians (particularly trainees; self included) typically go about their patient care duties earnestly but in somewhat of a bubble, insulating themselves from the ongoing changes in health policy. Attending the NHPC provided me with insight as to how important it is for clinicians to engage in the process of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our health care systems. Being one of the few surgeons at NHPC added a unique perspective to the experience. The level of involvement of primary care specialties in health policy reform and at NHPC is not surprising, but is indeed remarkable. I am certainly aware of the impressive efforts of surgical specialty societies (such as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons) in advocating for their members. While I acknowledge that there are differences in opinions, we have a common goal of improving patient care. With this in mind, I am hoping that future discussions can bring together individuals with focuses on primary and specialty care. I am hoping that more of my like-minded surgical colleagues will attend the NHPC to demonstrate our shared interest in participating in health policy reform. Attending the NHPC was a fascinating experience that left a distinct mark on my early career development as a clinician and researcher. Undoubtedly, having greater knowledge about health policy will sharpen my research questions and methods. I am thankful to AcademyHealth for providing me this inspiring opportunity, as attending NHPC has reinforced my passion to pursue a career in policy-relevant health services research.