In summer 2017, I was a few months post-partum when I received an email announcing applications for the ACR’s Advocacy 101 program. It would take only a few days, but I asked my division director if it would be worth the time commitment. He questioned the career benefits of advocacy, but encouraged me to apply my outspoken personality toward improving patient care.
More than one year later, I continue to advocate for arthritis and remain enthusiastic about improving access to quality medical therapy. Although advocacy does not provide financial reimbursement, per se, the benefits to our patients, our subspecialty and, ultimately, our careers are indisputable.
The Program Explained
The Advocacy 101 (A101) program occurs in conjunction with Advocates for Arthritis (A4A) during September (i.e., Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month) and serves as a boot camp for fellows in training and fellowship program directors to educate and engage participants in healthcare policy and patient advocacy. The program begins with a casual welcome reception, allowing fellows a chance to network with the planning committee, as well as other fellows from pediatric and adult training programs. The first day is packed full of lectures, designed to educate advocacy newbies on the major components of healthcare policy and the challenges we face as clinicians. The day concludes with a large networking dinner, including A101 participants, members of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), RheumPAC and the ACR Executive Committee.