Physicians are leaders in their communities, known by many people and whose opinions are respected. Do not underestimate your ability to turn those traits into positive advocacy for the profession and patient care. As former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously proclaimed, “All politics is local,” and the opinions from constituents have become increasingly important in how legislative issues are decided.

To improve medicine’s effectiveness in the advocacy arena, the Medical Association sets forth below information on communicating, working and interacting with legislators to ensure medicine’s concerns on health care issues are heard.

Unless physicians develop their political and legislative skills as constituents, the profession’s future is uncertain.

How to Tell a Compelling Story
Legislators see data, graphs and spreadsheets all day, but true stories from constituents drive action.

Verbal Communications with Lawmakers
“Constituent-to-legislator” conversations are the most powerful avenue of communications, and there is no substitute for “in-person” meetings.

Written Communications with Legislators
Because physicians may never have an opportunity for verbal communications with legislators, written communication with legislators may be the most convenient way to ensure your voice is heard.

Testifying at a Public or Regulatory Hearing
Each legislative session public hearings are held giving constituents an opportunity to speak their concerns on pending legislation.

Giving Public Officials a Tour of Your Practice, Facility or Surgery Center
Have you ever considered hosting a facility tour for your lawmaker or other elected officials? A tour of your facility or local hospital is an underestimated way to powerfully communicate with your district leader.

Peer-to-Peer Communications
It is a pitfall to assume other physicians care as much as you do about an issue. In the same way you would try to persuade an elected official to see your point of view, you can lobby friends, family and colleagues.

Interacting with the Media
Elected officials comb through news outlets keeping their finger on the pulse of issues affecting their constituents.