Zachary Shaheen.jpgZachary Shaheen, MD, PhD

Pediatric Rheumatology Fellow, PGY-6, University of Minnesota

1. Why is being an advocate so important to you?
I view advocacy as a natural and necessary extension of all the work we do in clinics and hospitals to support our patients. By engaging in policy decisions in organizations and government bodies, we can empower our patients to have better access to high-quality care, live in healthier environments, and have structures in our community that best serve their needs.

2. What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
I am privileged to have collaborated on the development of gender-affirming care policies with fellow MMA members, health policy analysts, and community partners. I recently served on our abortion policy task force, which comprehensively revised our abortion protection policies, and am also now serving on the Physician Wellness Advisory Committee (PWAC), with the goal of developing policy that will functionally support our medical trainee and staff workforce.

3. What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
To me, the biggest barrier to someone engaging in advocacy is fear of the process, when in reality, this is the easiest part. Organizations like the MMA serve as the catalysts to make our expert opinions and experiences a reality. Time is also a significant factor precluding engagement. Again, organized medical organizations help address this - more hands make for less work!