Vonnie Hampel joined NACDS as the director of federal government affairs last week. Hampel most recently managed health policy issues as a senior legislative assistant and press secretary to Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), a member of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

There isn’t anyone in America who doesn’t have a story about the healthcare system.

NACDS.org caught up with Hampel this week to discuss her thoughts on health policy, what brought her to D.C., and more.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Just south of Madison, Wisc., in a tiny town called Brooklyn. I moved away when I was nine. My dad was transferred to Washington, D.C., so I finished elementary school and went to high school here in northern Virginia.

Q: What spurred your interest in politics?

A: Just growing up around D.C., you end up talking about politics a lot. Then I went to the University of North Carolina and took a political science class. I loved it and so I decided to major in it. I came back home from college in 2009, which was a difficult time to find a job. I thought about going to law school, but I took an internship on the Hill. I loved it and never looked back.

Q: Why are you interested in health policy?

A: It was one of the first issues I was given when I worked in Rep. Boren’s (D-OK) office. Once I started handling healthcare issues, I realized how broad it is and I was fascinated by it. As interesting as foreign affairs are, healthcare affects everyone’s day-to-day lives. There isn’t anyone in America who doesn’t have a story about the healthcare system.

Q: What is your guiding principle professionally?

A: I strive to be straightforward with people because if you hide something from someone, they’ll never trust you again.

Q: What do you bring to the table?

A: I get politics and policy. Good policy doesn’t always have good politics behind it, and learning how to balance that is important.

Q: This will be your first NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill. You’ve been on the other side working for congressional offices. What advice would you give to participants?

A: I’ve always found that bringing it back to the patients speaks to legislators. Tell them how the issue affects your ability to serve your patients on a day-to-day basis. Members of Congress and staffers always remember those kinds of stories. When they hear about one of their constituents who has a problem, that sticks with them because it’s personal.