Tjaden-Kim.jpgApril 2022 Advocacy Champion

Kimberly Tjaden, MD, MPH, FAAFP​

  • Department of Family Medicine
  • Community Health Medical Director, Department of Population Health
  • CentraCare

Why is being an advocate so important to you?
I am fully aware of my privilege, my education, my good fortune.  I am also very aware of those who lack my privilege. Those that live on the margins need a voice in the policies and systems that support or detract from health in our communities. Understanding disease and illness AND understanding the systems that contribute to disease, helps me to advocate for healthier policies in our communities.  Advocating for the health of our entire community is my privilege.

What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
Over the past year, I have had the joy of working with several community-based organizations, our local public health departments, and many dedicated folks at my institution. We have focused on vaccine equity - educating and offering covid vaccine to our BIPOC community. We have been out in the community meeting folks where they are:  at schools, at churches, at community events.  Listening to the needs of the community helps us understand their needs. Additionally, I have advocated with city and county policy makers for short term mask mandates during the Omicron surge, our state legislators for prescription drug access, and our U.S. senators and representatives for national health policy to continue telehealth. Each of these policies affect our community and our patients.

What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
Speak up. Your voice matters. Educate yourself about the issues you are passionate about and use your voice to help policy makers understand the issues. They often hear from those in power or those with vested interests. Physicians and public health professionals speak for the community.