Experiencing the Family Medicine Advocacy Summit

Family medicine leaders and advocates from across the nation gathered in D.C. last week for the 2019 AAFP Family Medicine Advocacy Summit (FMAS).

The Minnesota delegation was hard at work meeting with Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and Representatives Betty McCollum, Angie Craig and Ilhan Omar, advocating for support of family medicine and primary care access, teaching health centers, gun violence prevention research and more.

Two family medicine residents and one medical student, who joined our delegation, share a glimpse into their experiences at the summit.

Jenny Zhang, MD

Second-year resident
United Family Medicine Residency

What led to your interest in FMAS?
I had been active in advocacy as a medical student; however, with the busy schedule of residency, I found my efforts in advocacy taking a back seat. Over time, I felt myself wearing down and realized that a part of my burnout was due to frustration with systems-level issues that affected patient care. It motivated me to revitalize my passion for advocacy. We, as physicians, have the privilege of having a powerful voice in our society, and it’s important that we recognize that privilege and put it towards fighting health inequities on larger stages. Advocacy is at the heart of family medicine.

How was your experience at FMAS?
FMAS was such an invigorating experience. It gave me time to reflect on what issues mattered to me and my community, a safe space to voice concerns, tools to make my voice be heard and tangible action items to make change.

What are your take-aways?
Change does not happen overnight. We must invest in building long-term relationships with our legislators and continue speaking out on issues that need change. Our voice matters.

Dr. Zhang pictured far left

Kiran Sidhu, MD

Second-year resident
Hennepin Healthcare Family Medicine Residency

How was your experience at FMAS?
It feels pretty surreal that we were on Capitol Hill advocating for legislation that has the potential to affect patients nationwide. I think it’s easy to get bogged down in our day-to-day work, and FMAS helped inspire me to the change we can make as a collective. It was especially great to be a part of a group of strong women doctors who serendipitously were on the Hill on the anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment!

A big thank you to the MAFP for funding my participation in the summit, to Maria Huntley, CAE, MAM, and Jami Burbidge, MAM, for being wonderful resources and to Renée Crichlow, MD, for her inspiration and Twitter expertise. I look forward to participating in FMAS 2020!

Dr. Sidhu pictured third from right

Katherine Rogers

Fourth-year medical student
University of Minnesota

Why did you decide to attend FMAS?
I was drawn to FMAS for the opportunity to learn current policies affecting primary care and to practice using my voice as a student to affect change.

How was your experience at FMAS?
Speaking with legislators alongside inspiring women physicians was invigorating. It solidified my belief that family physicians embody compassion and conviction. I left Washington with a new found confidence to speak up for what is right and to be involved in health advocacy.

Rogers pictured third from right

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