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Improving Your Advocacy Skills: Give Lawmakers Solutions, Not Just Complaints

By Amelia Pare, MD​


Note: Over the coming weeks, PAMED members will share why they have a passion for advocacy. Part 2 of this series features Amelia Pare, MD, FACS, a plastic surgeon from McMurray, Pa.

Do you want non-physician legislators making critical decisions about how you treat your patients? Like it or not, they do. Take PAMED’s Physician Advocacy Basics CME, free for PAMED members, to learn how you can influence those decisions by becoming an effective advocate.

Tort reform was “the No. 1 issue that got me involved,” Dr. Pare said. “Medicine is not a livelihood that’s conducive to picking up and going to Harrisburg for a day, but at certain points in your life, it’s important. There’s a point where you have to say, ‘This isn’t working anymore.’ You need to take a stand.”

On a visit to the U.S. Capitol, Dr. Pare was stunned at the misinformation among Congress members and staff. “If they get bad information, they make a bad choice,” Dr. Pare said.

But on another visit with a baby who drew the attention of top congressional leaders, she realized that “they have families, and they understand the importance of good health care and healthy communities. There are all sorts of avenues for reaching them.”

Give lawmakers solutions—not just complaints.

“Their constituents are people we may not agree with,” Dr. Pare said. “You don’t want to lose your credibility by being someone who can’t handle change.”

Dr. Pare suggested that when lawmakers and their aides call with questions, pick up the phone. Also, “attend a fundraiser once in a while,” she added. “People think that’s taboo, but legislators make the law. The only way to be part of that system is to be part of their world.”

Join PAMPAC, and stay informed by reading daily e-mails from PAMED and other organizations. “PAMED has a wealth of resources,” Dr. Pare said. “Whether you like print, blogs, or blasts, PAMED is there for you. That’s your foundation. While you’re out there taking care of patients, PAMED is taking care of legislation, because you can’t do both.”

“They say that young physicians are not joiners, but if you look at the power of Facebook and social media, that intrinsically makes you a joiner. Technology gives you time to do more. If you feel strongly about something, you can e-mail, text, or call, and let your legislator know.”

This post originally appeared in the Pennsylvania Physician Magazine. It is republished with permission.

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