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ACP’s Leadership Day and Key Contact Program Experience: Viral Patel

I Made an Impact on Capitol Hill by Participating in ACP’s Leadership Day and Key Contact Program

One hundred and thirty million people let their voices be heard during this past election. We all understood the importance of voting and how our futures will be shaped by this new administration. Along with the new administration, new members of Congress need to hear the voices of their constituents.

Every year, the American College of Physicians hosts a Leadership Day where internists, residents, and students congregate and visit their congressional representatives as a team. Both times I have attended Leadership Day, I learned so much about the deficits in our healthcare system and the improvements that need to be made. Not only did I feel like I was actively participating in reform movements but I also was able to see the outcomes of our work.

President Obama understands the challenges that so many Americans face. With the rising costs of healthcare and our healthcare insurance unable to meet these costs, primary care medicine and taking care of families is imperative.

Politicians do not see the lines of people waiting to see physicians. They do not get to see internists running around the clinic and spending ten minutes per patient just to pay the bills. This is why we, as healthcare providers, need to unify our voices to describe this plight and project this message to Capitol Hill and President Obama.

The question from medical students is why should we spend time talking to people about things over which we have no control and that will not affect us for another 5-6 years? At first, I felt like that. Then our ACP Kentucky Chapter Governor, Mary Duke, MD, FACP, spoke at our internal medicine interest group meeting and assured me that I could make a difference. The Kentucky Chapter was able to finance my trip, so off I went to Washington, DC.

My questions and anxiety did not end there. I still wondered why I was spending two days in Washington, DC, being part of a team to see our Kentucky representatives, when I could be studying for anatomy or rounding on patients.

The first time I went to Capitol Hill I realized how important Leadership Day was. I never thought that I, as a student, could make an impact on my elected officials, but they listened. Not only did they listen, they asked me questions about why I was thinking about not entering primary care and what concerns I had about the current state of healthcare. They know that students are future of healthcare and this is why we should take an active stand on healthcare reform.

There are times when I feel so overwhelmed with school and life that I cannot even fathom taking two or three days out to travel to Capitol Hill. ACP has come up with a perfect solution for members who want to take an active part, but do not necessarily have the time that needs to be dedicated to a full advocacy trip. The Key Contact Program is the perfect grassroots solution. It allows members to have their voices heard and gives them the tools necessary to develop and maintain relationships with their congressional representatives.

The Key Contact program informs members about important upcoming decisions being made on Capitol Hill and the stance that would best support primary care. Key Contacts are sent an e-mail template ready for one to review, edit and then easily push the send button. This message is sent right to the e-mail boxes of your senators, representative, and their staff members. It is the perfect solution to our busy lives and I encourage all of you to join. If urgent action is needed, we are asked to call our congressional representatives instead. We are given talking points that make calling very easy.

Remember, it is important to shape the future because we are the ones who will live in it. I hope to see some of you at Leadership Day this May and I hope you become a Key Contact today. If you have any questions about these programs, please feel free to contact the ACP Washington staff persons below, or e-mail me directly at viral.patel@uky.edu.

Leadership Day
Shuan Tomlinson
State Health Policy Coordinator

Key Contact Program
Jolynne Flores
Supervisor Grassroots Advocacy & PAC

Viral Patel
Council of Student Members Representative, Central Region
University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 2010

Back to January 2009 Issue of IMpact

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