In our challenging and cost-conscious healthcare environment, advocacy is an essential skill for all health professionals. As rheumatology health professionals, we advocate for our patients with insurers, institutional administrators, employers, and teachers. To bring about needed healthcare reforms, we must also learn to be effective political advocates.
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueJuly 2007
Also By This Author
Political advocacy may seem daunting, but it is a skill that we all can master. The ACR and ARHP have developed tools to help busy health professionals become more effective advocates. Through the Political Advocacy page on the ARHP Web site, ARHP members can learn about important issues affecting rheumatology patients, practice, and research, and access tools for communicating with their legislators about these issues.
The ACR/ARHP Grassroots Action Center offers a variety of ways members can become involved in the College’s advocacy efforts. The Legislative Action Center provides tools for identifying your senators and representatives, information about current legislation ACR is advocating for, and tools to help you compose a letter to fax or e-mail to your legislators. Rheumatology health professionals have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with their congressional leaders.
Other ways to be an effective advocate include:
- Visit your legislator in his or her home district. Face-to-face meetings with members of Congress can be very effective. Many congressional leaders hold town meetings in their home districts, which afford an excellent opportunity for you to let them know how specific issues or policies affect rheumatology patients and practice. To schedule an appointment to meet with your senator or representative, contact your legislator’s district office.
- Participate in the ACR’s Advocates for Arthritis program. During this annual spring event in Washington, D.C., ACR and ARHP members and patients meet with legislators or their staff to discuss current issues affecting rheumatology patients and practice. (See “Rheumatology Goes to Washington,” May 2007, p. 14, for highlights from this spring’s Advocates for Arthritis program.)
- Display an ACR advocacy recruitment easel in your office’s waiting room. These contain pre-addressed postcards that patients can mail to the ACR to become involved with ACR’s advocacy efforts.
- Joining the ACR Advocacy List Serve. The Advocacy List Serve is a forum for communicating updates on current legislative and regulatory issues affecting rheumatology practice, research, and patients. Members can subscribe to this list serve to increase their political awareness and keep on top of important issues.
Advocating for our patients and our practice is too important to leave for someone else to do. Advocacy is an essential component of professional practice and the responsibility of every health professional. I invite you to join me and add your voice on Capitol Hill. Together we can make a difference.