Editor’s Note: Look at the past few months, and it’s easy to see what happens when a strong grassroots advocacy effort emerges within an association. ACR and ARHP members recently rallied around the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) issue, and they continue to rally around other issues that impact rheumatology. Over the next few months, “From the College” will look at advocacy from the viewpoint of a rheumatologist, a healthcare professional, and a patient. This month, “From the College” will look at advocacy from the viewpoint of Dr. King, a practicing rheumatologist in Belden, Miss., and a strong advocate for himself, his fellow members, and the patients who depend on those in the field of rheumatology.
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Explore This IssueOctober 2008
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Cliché perhaps, but certainly fitting in describing the practice of rheumatology of late. We have been blessed with a widening array of therapies with which to treat rheumatologic illnesses. The advent of the biological era promises even greater potential for meaningful reductions in disability and death from these diseases.
Unfortunately, there are many obstacles that are placed in our path on a daily basis that make it nearly impossible to use these advances. From the SGR problem to the reporting demands from payers and everything in between, we are faced with a variety of issues that adversely affect how we practice our specialty.
Until 2006, my way of dealing with this frustration was to stand around the water cooler complaining to my colleagues—or anyone else within earshot—about how bad things were getting. Thankfully, I eventually came to realize that all I was doing was raising my blood pressure and feeding an ever-growing sense of hopelessness that things would never get better. Judging from many comments on the ACR advocacy list serve, I was not alone.
Advocates for Arthritis—A Golden Opportunity to Make an Impact
It was not until I received an e-mail from the ACR extending an invitation to attend Advocates for Arthritis in 2006 that my misguided coping strategy changed. I have since attended two advocacy meetings in Washington D.C., and I have made some interesting discoveries. First, I knew very little about how the legislative process actually works. Second, I have determined that I can make a difference if I am willing to put forth some effort. And lastly, advocacy is good for my health and well-being. (Since I have begun spending my energy on advocacy rather than remonstration, I have rekindled my passion for taking care of arthritis patients.)