MD/PhD Student at the University of Minnesota Medical School
Why is being an advocate so important to you?
Advocacy helps advance us toward an ethical healthcare landscape. Many of the biggest problems in medicine are not medical, but rather systemic. Through advocacy efforts, we are able to engage policymakers and lawmakers to make changes at the systems level. Advocacy allows me to broaden my impact and reach when pushing for changes to improve public health.
What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
At the state level, I was fortunate to be a part of the MMA Illicit Drug Work Group, in which we wrote formative policy pertaining to the harm reduction and decriminalization of drugs of abuse. I am also involved with the AMA, which conducts policy work at the national level. As a delegate, I represented medical students in the House of Delegates where we advocated on issues ranging from lifting restrictions on abortion care to harm reduction strategies for illicit drug use.
What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
Much of the work of healthcare providers entails acknowledging that there are suboptimal features of the healthcare system that we cannot change. We shouldn’t just accept this! Always look for gaps, and think of ways to fill them. Try to find issues that are close to you that will motivate you to become a vocal advocate. Sometimes this means supporting incremental progress, and other times it means pushing for major change. Advocacy can give you a sense of purpose when you feel ineffectual.