But on a volunteer front, I think it actually helps prevent burnout. It’s like taking continuing education courses. You come back refreshed and inspired and ready to go. And that’s the kind of upbeat experience that helps people stay in the field.
ARHP Ann Kunkel Advocacy Award
Jennifer Trizuto, MPT
Senior Physical Therapist, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, San Mateo, Calif.
Background: It’s not a stretch to say advocacy runs in Ms. Trizuto’s bloodline. She grew up in a small town in central California, where her dad was a logging contractor and her mom started an advocacy organization, called Women in Timber, that tackled policy issues related to natural resources. They became active in local and national politics, and were once invited to an inaugural ball in Washington, D.C., for their efforts. So it makes sense their daughter, Jennifer, would become an advocate, fighting to improve what she calls the biggest challenge to rheumatology: access to optimum care.
“Too many players are involved in determining what therapies to use for which patients and how and when to use those therapies,” she says. “The physician is the only one with a medical license, but often the decisions they make are directed more by what the insurance says you can use and/or how expensive those therapies are. It shouldn’t be that way.”
Ms. Trizuto has been an active member of the ARHP since 1995, serving on the ARHP Advocacy Subcommittee, Government Affairs Committee and RheumPac, among others. She has attended the ACR’s Advocacy Day for the past 10 years, presented at the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting and served on the Arthritis Foundation Advisory Board for San Mateo. Unsurprisingly, she’s also a local sports advocate.
Q: What draws you to advocacy? Why is it important?
A: Advocacy makes me feel as if I can directly make a difference in policy and access of care for my patients. I feel advocacy is so important because if you don’t participate in advocacy of some sort, others’ voices will be heard above than yours. [And] the needs of those loud voices will overshadow the needs of your patients.
Q: Dealing with chronic conditions takes patience. How does that skill set help in advocacy as well?
A: Patience is vital for advocacy. You may have to go to [Capitol] Hill many times or make 30 calls to ensure your efforts aren’t forgotten because progress on the Hill is very slow and lengthy. You have to learn to stay the course.