Rachel E. W. Tellez, MD, Park Nicollet Clinic – Brookdale

March 2020Rachel Tellez, MD

1. Why is being an advocate so important to you?
As a pediatrician, I work with patients who are not able to speak up for themselves and I have always felt the draw to be their voice.   I love my day to day work as a physician, but there are many times that I feel limited in my ability to help patients because of barriers to health such as food insecurity, housing issues, education, and health disparities.  When I advocate for these issues outside the clinic, I feel that I am able to start contributing to important big picture changes that will improve the lives of my patients and their families.

2. What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
  1. Gun violence--I had a Letter to the Editor published in the Washington Post during the "This is Our Lane" movement discussing that physicians' concerns with gun violence are not just about the acute trauma that ER physicians and surgeons are treating, but also that physicians are needing to help families deal with ongoing children's anxiety related to violence in the news, school lockdowns, etc.  I also participated as a moderator in the MMA's Gun Violence Prevention Workshop.
  2. Health disparities--I am the co-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Poverty and Disparities Work Group which has partnered with the MMA to provide webinars and educational sessions on structural racism and barriers to health equity in communities at risk.
  3. Early childhood education--I enjoy speaking with my elected officials about the importance of investing in early childhood education and programs such as Reach out and Read to help prepare *all* Minnesota children for a successful future.

3. What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
Get inspired by your daily work with patients and speak up where you are. You don't need to start with visits to the Capitol.  Many of my most satisfying advocacy efforts are taking the extra step to talk to a school about a child's learning plan or writing letters to landlords to remind them of their responsibilities to their tenants. It is easy from there to jump to phone calls or letters to your elected officials when you hear about issues that relate to problems you see in your clinic. Our representatives do value our opinions as physicians and want to hear the stories of our patients/their constituents. Overall, when you have an instinct to speak up, find the place you are most comfortable and just do it!

Past Advocacy Champions