The ACR is accepting applications for its Advocacy 101 program, which is held in conjunction with Advocates for Arthritis each year. Apply today or encourage others at your practice or organization to get off the sidelines and involved in ACR advocacy efforts.
Amanda Schnell, MD, assistant professor, Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, who is in charge of this year’s event, describes the program and what ACR/ARP members will gain from participating.
What is Advocacy 101?
The Advocacy 101 program is an innovative advocacy training program designed for any individual who wants to get more involved in advocacy. In the past, it was open only to fellows and program directors, but now it is available to all ACR/ARP members. The program was created by forward-thinking ACR members, including our own Government Affairs Committee chair, Blair Solow, MD.
In the program, you will learn the foundations of how the federal government works, how to become a successful advocate and what are the best strategies to connect with the relevant policy stakeholders in different areas of government.
When is Advocacy 101?
The Advocacy 101 program will be held on the afternoon of Sept. 26, 2021. All Advocacy 101 participants will also get to take part in the ACR’s virtual fly-in, Advocates for Arthritis on Sept. 27–28.
What is the format of the training?
Advocacy 101 will be virtual again this year. The neat thing about a virtual program and Hill visits is that it opens up the opportunity for many people who may not have been able to travel to Washington, D.C. The training features a combination of speakers, small breakout groups and lively discussion to not only educate you on the basics of advocacy, but let you get to know and interact with some of your peers.
Why are skills learned during Advocacy 101 important for rheumatology providers?
As rheumatologists, we have a unique opportunity to develop lifelong relationships with our patients and be at the cutting edge of science with treatments for our diseases. Unfortunately, due to complexities and challenges such as prior authorization, pharmacy benefit managers and poor healthcare coverage, all too often we are unable to treat our patients with the medication that best fits their needs. During Advocacy 101, fellows can learn what issues are at stake, how to best advocate for themselves and their patients and what are the best ways to effect change.
What have you found rewarding about getting involved in advocacy efforts?
Advocacy has given me another purpose and way to help my patients—more at a global level. In addition, I have made great friends from across the country that I look forward to seeing every year at Advocates for Arthritis and at ACR Convergence. Physician advocacy may even help reduce burnout.
What if advocacy seems intimidating?
Anyone can participate in advocacy! We as rheumatologists have so much knowledge and expertise to share with our lawmakers to help improve the care of our patients. Simply being able to explain the day-to-day issues you face is all the experience you need. And then, with the tools you learn in the Advocacy 101 program and Advocates for Arthritis, you will be amazed how easy it can be.
What types of issues are raised?
We advocate for issues related to improving the lives of our patients, decreasing health disparities and expanding the rheumatology workforce. These issues include streamlining prior authorization, making telemedicine accessible, eliminating physical therapy caps and much more. Specifically, at this year’s Advocates for Arthritis, we are focusing on prior authorization reform, drug pricing priorities and supporting the medical workforce.
How can prior Advocacy 101 attendees and seasoned advocates get involved?
Help us grow our pool of advocates by talking to your colleagues and even your patients about getting involved. Recruiting others to attend Advocacy 101 or Advocates for Arthritis is a great way to amplify the advocacy work you are already doing.
Outside of attending events like these, you can easily stay connected by signing up for action alerts in the ACR’s Legislative Action Center. This is a simple and quick way to send communications to legislators or editorials to your local paper. Also, a large part of being involved is simply knowing what is going on. Be sure to read through ACR@Work, the ACR’s semi-monthly advocacy e-newsletter, and follow @ACRheumDC on Twitter.