Boston Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Elisa Choi Awarded the 2024 Neubauer Award for Advocacy Work

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A strong leader in the Massachusetts ACP Chapter, Choi has forged several new advocacy efforts in addition to mentoring and advising junior member physicians

June 7, 2024 (ACP) -- Dr. Elisa Choi attended her first American College of Physicians Leadership Day on Capitol Hill in 2012, and she has not missed another Leadership Day since then.

Choi, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist in Boston, was so inspired by the two-day event and the face-to-face time with federal legislators that she resuscitated the Massachusetts ACP Chapter Health and Public Policy Committee and initiated its first Advocacy Day at the Massachusetts Statehouse. Now the Massachusetts ACP Advocacy Day is in its ninth year. In addition to winning several awards from ACP, the Massachusetts ACP Advocacy Day has become a model for several other state ACP chapters.

In addition, Choi has mentored, advised and sponsored junior physician members in the Massachusetts ACP Chapter. In 2019, she founded a Massachusetts ACP Chapter Award for Advocacy.

And in a "full-circle" moment, Choi received the 2024 Richard Neubauer Advocate for Internal Medicine Award at this year's ACP Leadership Day in Washington, D.C. The award is named for the late Dr. Richard L. Neubauer, who was a member of the ACP Board of Regents, governor of the ACP Alaska Chapter and a strong advocate for internal medicine.

Choi was completely surprised by the nomination and the win. "I am still processing," she said. "It is such an honor to even be considered for this award."

Advocacy work comes naturally to Choi. "I get a huge sense of satisfaction, particularly when the day-to-day can become burdensome and overwhelming," she noted. "We can't do patient care without advocacy."

Choi has a long history of advocacy work at ACP. She co-led the ACP Governor-Elect Chapter Advocacy Workshop in 2023 and has been a member of the ACP delegation to the American Medical Association House of Delegates since 2019. In 2023, she was elected to the AMA Women's Physician Section Governing Council, representing ACP. She is also a former governor of the Massachusetts Chapter and a former chair of the Board of Governors and currently sits on the ACP Board of Regents.

Her current advocacy focus includes increasing graduate medical education funding, physician payment reform and other measures to help offset the burgeoning physician workforce crisis. Other issues on her radar include expanding access to treatment for substance use disorder and achieving health equity among Asian Americans and other minority groups.

"The national ACP is doing similar great work in addressing health-related inequities, including food and housing insecurity, and we are really paralleling these efforts at the state level," she explained.

She also worked hard to promote COVID-19 public health measures and immunizations and to eliminate nonmedical exemptions. Choi has written multiple op-eds related to these issues to help garner public support.

Advocacy does make a difference, and every voice counts, she said.

Making the time is easy. "Schedule it in," she said. "It doesn't have to be writing a five-page editorial every day."

Choi recommends starting slowly by reading an article on the current challenges with physician reimbursement or another important issue. "Advocacy starts with getting better informed," she noted.

Other ways to get involved include reaching out to local, state or federal elected officials. "Our voices as physicians are so incredibly valued and respected by elected officials," Choi said. Noting that physicians have notoriously low voter turnout, she added: "Register to vote, and vote in every election, no matter how small."

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