The Washington Office of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) does a tremendous job advocating on behalf of all orthopaedic surgeons throughout the year on Capitol Hill.
The support of the AAOS Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) bolsters the impact of the AAOS advocacy efforts, which is evident by the 2016 94 percent win rate of AAOS-backed candidates. During a time of vast change in health care, the level of advocacy needs to be further increased to effect change on policies that will have a direct effect on orthopaedic surgeons and the patients they serve.
This belief is shared by current AAOS President, Dr. William Maloney, and immediate past President, Dr. Gerald Williams. At the 2017 Annual Meeting, they expressed the need for increasing orthopaedic surgeons’ investment in advocacy and growing the Orthopaedic PAC into the largest medical PAC in Washington.
To foster the investment in advocacy and policy efforts by orthopaedic surgeons, there needs to be early exposure and education. With the exception of a few medical schools introducing advocacy programs into their curriculum, the majority of schools lack advocacy and policy education. Residency programs also are lacking when it comes to training their residents on the importance of advocacy to the advancement of the profession of orthopaedic surgery.
AAOS started the Resident Assembly in 2014, which has a Health Policy Committee and this has helped educate residents on advocacy and policy.
The AAOS Washington Office made an investment in advocacy education of medical students by having Howard University College of Medicine’s Orthopaedic Surgery Interest Society visit for an advocacy day.
The students were provided background materials prior to the advocacy day on the issues that would be talked about in the congressional meetings. The Medical Student Advocacy Day was an inaugural event for the AAOS.
The Washington Office staff briefed the students on issues the AAOS is currently working on to gain congressional support.
Next, the students received advocacy training on how to best engage congressional members. After the advocacy education, students went to Capitol Hill for practical application where they met with congressional members.
The issues the students discussed were e-prescribing of opioids, musculoskeletal research funding, and graduate medical education funding. The meetings were well received by the congressional members and their staff.
These 3rd-year medical students from the Howard University College of Medicine who are also Nth Dimensions scholars no surprise include:
• William Hill - Student advocacy leader
• Rosandra Walker
• Arthur Mcdowell
• Cina Karodeh
• Chukwuemeka Mbagwu
Students had meetings with:
- Sen. Feinstein (CA)
- Sen. Isakson (GA)
- Sen. Harris (CA)
- Rep. Scott (GA)
- Rep. Wittman (VA)
- Rep. Wilson (SC)
- Rep. Jeffries (NY)
- and Rep. Sarbanes (MD)
In addition to this Hill day...
...the AAOS has the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference (NOLC) each year, which allows orthopaedic surgeons to meet with congressional leaders. Patient advocates also meet with congressional members each year to talk about the importance of orthopaedic surgery and musculoskeletal research. Having medical students participate in advocacy assists in setting the foundation for advocacy for the rest of their career and allows the AAOS to engage members of Congress in a unique way.