By Christopher Walker, Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine
There is no shortage of issues that affect or involve medical students as they develop into practicing physicians. From federal financial aid and graduate medical education funding to health care reform and the opioid crisis, national and local politics are undeniably intertwined with medical education and have an enormous impact on medicine, giving everyone in the health professions field a reason to become civically engaged.
As November approaches, so does the opportunity for you to make your voice heard. Despite your day-to-day schedule and laundry list of things to do, taking the time to vote is one of the single most important things you could do for your future.
Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. Congress is debating issues that affect you, issues you most certainly care about. When you vote, you are influencing the decision-making process and making sure that you have a say in how you will be governed.
Are you registered to vote? Do you qualify for an absentee ballot? Where is your polling place? Figuring this out is simple. All you need to do is visit this website. From there you can check your registration, find your local precinct, and learn about what is on the ballot.
Figuring out for whom to cast your vote is an intensely personal and important decision. That being said, it’s important that your decision is informed. Here’s some advice:
- Find out what’s on your local ballot and read about the issues before you vote. Read about the benefits and drawbacks of each issue and contemplate how your vote would affect you and your community.
- Read about national issues through multiple, credible sources. Try not to read only from sources that say what you want to hear—make a point to read from highly regarded sources to provide context. Check out this resource for some help in evaluating the quality of different sources, and what biases they might include.
- Form your own opinions on local and national issues. Combine outside information from multiple sources with your own personal point of view to develop principles that help you guide your vote.
- Learn about the candidates. Most communities have voter guides that outline what candidates are running for which office and provide additional resources to learn more about each candidate.
- Check where the candidates stand on issues you care about from their websites. If there’s a particular issue you care about, you can contact the campaigns directly and ask where the candidate stands on it. If there’s a topic that you want the candidate to elaborate on, contact their campaign to learn more.
At the end of the day, what matters most is that you took the time to vote. It’s also important to remember that regardless of the outcome of the election once the ballots are tallied, your voice is still important. Staying informed and staying active in advocacy is crucial to make sure you are heard clearly and heard often. The issues that affect you will continue to come up in various policies and legislative proposals, and you can continue to make a difference. Elected officials represent all their constituents. As a constituent, you should stay informed of the issues and continue to contact your representatives’ offices to share your thoughts.
As a medical student, AACOM has some extra resources to help you. Staying engaged with AACOM’s ED to MED campaign will help you keep up to date on the major issues that affect medical students and young physicians as they arise. Some of these issues are being debated right now, and it’s up to you to let your lawmakers know where you stand. Help empower the medical student voice by becoming an ED to MED advocate today.
Election Day 2018 is Tuesday, November 6th. Remember to vote.