TR: What are some considerations involved given your position in an academic setting in Minnesota?
Dr. Frie: In academia, you have the ability to expose a large number of people to advocacy in many different ways. I currently teach a longevity in aging course, which includes modules on advocacy for the aging population. Students develop advocacy skills through looking at the stance of professional organizations, using advocacy tool kits and using the Bill Tracker site to follow current legislation. The assignments include finding legislators and drafting letters in support of or in opposition to legislation. The students are always excited and surprised to see how easy it is to express their voice on current legislation they are passionate about.
Sometimes I think there’s an impression that our government systems are so complex and that your voice doesn’t get anything done, but in my personal experience, it’s been the opposite. Having positive experiences helps relay the importance of engaging in professional advocacy throughout their careers.
Kimberly J. Retzlaff is a freelance medical journalist based in Denver.