Paul C. Matson, MD, The Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic, P.A.
Chair, AMA Delegation

January 2021 Advocacy Champion

Williams-Lauren.jpg1. Why is being an advocate so important to you?

Advocacy has always been very important to me and I believe it is one of the fundamental tenants woven through the fabric of medicine. Advocacy for our patients is an important part of our daily professional work, advocating with insurers and the healthcare industry on their behalf. Advocacy in the public arena on behalf of our patients and profession is a natural extension of this service, and reflects the two definitions of the word advocate: a person who speaks on someone else’s behalf; and a person who publicly supports a cause or policy. The years that I have spent serving on the MMA Board of Trustees and the AMA delegation reinforce the importance of advocacy on behalf of our profession and the people we serve. Public advocacy, which requires sustained effort in coalition with other groups, will leverage and amplify an issue, that began at a local level, to state and national attention and action.

2. What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
The Minnesota delegation to the AMA proffered the resolution “Elimination of Race as a Proxy for Genetics, Ancestry, and Biology” at the AMA interim 2020 meeting. This resolution came from the MMA Policy Council and MMA Board of Trustees, and was adopted without change or amendment by the AMA House of Delegates. This resolution, along with the Minority Affairs Section resolution, “Racial Essentialism in Medicine” and the Medical Student Section resolution, “Racism and Public Health Threat” provide strong policy statements directing the AMA to pursue advocacy to mitigate the deleterious effects of conflating race with genetics while recognizing the harmful impacts of racism on public health and social determinants of health outcomes.

I participated in an MMA work group with 30 specialty members, to provide input to the Minnesota Department of Health regarding a careful and staged return of elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic. The thoughtful discussion with the Minnesota Department of Health provided helpful guidance to medical groups this spring as necessary surgical services were resumed.

3. What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  This quote embodies the spirit of advocacy. Becoming involved with the MMA on an issue that is important to you is the easiest way to begin, as you find support from other thoughtful, committed physicians who are interested in the same issues. The process of negotiation and policy implementation is how advocacy comes to fruition, but it begins with the understanding that each of us have more impact through our collective voices.