Last Updated: Feb 21, 2018
By Tani Malhotra, MD
Advocacy is defined as: "public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy."
As physicians, we are advocates for our patients when we recommend preventive measures or treatments. We are advocates when we call insurance companies to cover a hospital stay or provide a statement about the importance of a certain medication for a patient.
However, often while trying to do the best we can for our patients we are restricted by regulations that interfere in our ability to provide this care. The National Advocacy Conference (NAC) hosted by the American Medical Association allowed me to come together with other leaders from Pennsylvania and meet with our Congressional Representatives and Senators to discuss legislation that helps us in our health care delivery.
I am passionately involved and concerned with the epidemic of opioid use in pregnancy. Meeting with legislators and helping them understand the impact of legislation on our ability to deliver care is every physician's responsibility.
We are the experts in our fields and our representatives appreciate our evidence-based input on bills they are considering. Meeting with them in D.C., Harrisburg, or in their local offices builds bridges. This allows physicians to regain control of their health care practices and influence policy in a meaningful way.
Residency and medical practice are time-consuming and, on most days, we just want to be able to do our jobs and remain outside political controversies. However, in order to be able to "just do our jobs" it is necessary to meet with our local representatives and Congressmen and Congresswomen to help them better understand the challenges we face in providing care for their constituents.
Just as we got into medicine to help people, our representatives got into politics for similar reasons. We must collaborate with them to develop policies that help the practice of medicine and the health of our patients. As one of the speakers at NAC said, "if medicine is our profession, politics is our business.”
Tani Malhotra, MD, is the Resident Trustee on PAMED’s Board of Trustees. She was one of several Pennsylvania physician leaders who attended the 2018 National Advocacy Conference.