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Blog » Using Digital Advocacy to Influence Policy

Using Digital Advocacy to Influence Policy

April 20, 2016

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

2016 AACOM DC-159

Every day, Members of Congress discuss policies that impact your life. They need to hear from the osteopathic medical education community so that they fully understand the effects of their decisions on your future. But how do you make your voice heard if you are not in Washington? Two words: Digital advocacy.

You don’t need to have a political science degree or live within the Beltway to make a real impact. In fact, according to the Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy survey conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), 87% of congressional staffers who responded to the survey said email and the Internet have made it easier for constituents to become more involved in public policy, and 57% thought these technologies have also made lawmakers more accountable.

Digital advocacy allows us to:

  • Express our views and concerns about a particular issue, such as the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).
  • Inform elected officials on how their policy decisions impact the future physician workforce.
  • Raise awareness and grow support in our communities for the issues we care about.

We want to make our ED to MED ambassadors’ advocacy efforts as simple, but effective as possible. Here are 3 easy ways you can be an advocate for your future:

Engage with your legislators on social media

According to the #SocialCongress 2015 survey conducted by CMF, Members of Congress and their staff are becoming much more active on social media. The survey found 76% of respondents said social media has enabled their office to have more meaningful interactions with constituents. It doesn’t take a million tweets to catch your legislator’s eye—staff members noted in the survey that 30 or fewer comments on a social media post are enough to get a congressional office’s attention.

What you can do
Reach out to your Members of Congress on social media. Not sure who your representatives are? Use our Find Your Legislator tool to find out, and visit their website to learn about their social media presence.

Share your #donewithdebt story

Stories can capture the hearts and minds of Members of Congress and congressional staff, and ultimately impact their policy decisions.

What you can do
The Share Your Story feature on allows ED to MED ambassadors to share how graduate student debt impacts their financial future. Stories from real students impacted by graduate student loan debt are key to capturing the attention of lawmakers.

Send a message to your legislator

According to the CMF survey on How Citizen Advocacy is Changing Mail Operations on Capitol Hill, 95% of Senate staff and 89% of House staff surveyed said that responding to constituent communications is a high priority in their offices.

What you can do
Speak up about how graduate student debt impacts your future by sending your Members of Congress a message through our Take Action page. Don’t worry, we provided a sample letter to get you started.

Advocacy is consistently evolving and utilizing digital advocacy as a strategic tool to impact policy is critical to not only elevate your issues on Capitol Hill, but reach your legislators in a quick, concise, and effective manner. Want to get more involved in ED to MED? Join the campaign to learn about upcoming advocacy opportunities.


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