Because senators and representatives return to their home states and districts during congressional work periods, these times when Congress is out of session provide a great opportunity to arrange in-district meetings to inform elected officials of the issues of importance to their constituents. While members of Congress and their staff are well-versed on many issues, surgeons are the experts on issues affecting their practices and their patients.
In recognition of the value of meeting with elected officials while they are in their home districts, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Division of Advocacy and Health Policy (DAHP) established an Advocate at Home Program. Designed for all surgeon advocates, this program was established to expand Fellow engagement in the College’s grassroots advocacy efforts while demonstrating the importance of meeting with elected officials to raise the profile of ACS policy priorities and effect change. These interactions help surgeons to develop relationships with policymakers and offer to serve as trusted advisors.
Since the program launched in August, 30 Fellows from 25 congressional districts across the country have expressed interest in participating. By mid-September, 15 Fellows had met with 10 members of Congress at home to educate them about important issues facing surgeons and patients, including the following:
- Reducing administrative burdens through the College’s Stop Overregulating My OR (SOMO) initiative
- Reauthorizing the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA)
- Addressing opioid abuse and misuse
For many participants, these were familiar federal legislative priorities—an extension of those covered at the 2018 ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit. Additionally, PAHPA reauthorization and opioids are timely issues that Congress is expected to address prior to the midterm elections.
DAHP staff helps to make attending in-district meetings as easy as possible by providing all of the resources to schedule, prepare for, and facilitate the discussion. Meeting assessments have been extremely positive, with participants stating that duration, substance, and policymaker interaction was exceptional, and ensuring this program’s continued success and expansion is a DAHP priority. We encourage all Fellows to watch for next year’s registration invitation to participate in the Advocate at Home Program 2019, scheduled to launch in May.
You are your best advocate. For more information, or to participate, contact DAHP staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.