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Blog » Sustainable Advocacy: A Lifelong Commitment for Medical Students

Sustainable Advocacy: A Lifelong Commitment for Medical Students

April 14, 2017

By Pamela Murphy, MSW, Senior Vice President of Government Relations

I recently had the privilege of addressing the newest inductees of Omega Beta Iota: The National Osteopathic Political Action Honor Society. To be inducted into ΩBI, medical students and professional mentors must display a deep commitment to political activity and demonstrate excellence in health care politics.

Even among this select group of individuals that prioritize advocacy, numerous challenges and frustrations can create barriers to civic engagement. Many external factors, such as election outcomes, stakeholder positions, or lack of bipartisanship support could influence an issue. Regardless of what is happening externally, it is important to remember that even though you can’t control the external environment, you can always determine your own advocacy.

It is helpful to ask yourself, “What kind of advocate am I now, and what kind of advocate do I want to be?” If, like the ΩBI inductees, you want to commit to advocacy long-term, keep in mind the “three Ps” of becoming a sustainable advocate:

  1. Purpose: Identify your purpose and mission. Why do you advocate?
  2. Patience: Be patient with the process. Change can take time.
  3. Perseverance: Persist in your advocacy. Expect challenges and don’t let them deter you.

Remember also that advocacy can take many forms and we need advocates across the continuum. You can retweet a message to your congressional representative, join student leadership, host a campus or community event, or participate in state or national advocacy days. Many programs exist that will help you grow your advocacy, such as the AACOM Osteopathic Health Policy Intern Program. State and national associations, including AACOM, are always there to offer resources and to support your advocacy efforts.

The beauty of civic engagement is that it’s your individual right, but I’d argue further that it’s your duty as a member of the future physician workforce to use your voice, not just today or as a medical student, but throughout your professional career. A truly effective advocate stays engaged, is always informed, and knows how to turn words into action to achieve an outcome. Find your purpose, be patient with the process, and persevere in the face of challenges to become a sustainable advocate who makes lasting change for the health care profession. Joining the ED to MED campaign is a great first step toward sustainable advocacy—get involved today!

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