Advocacy is a vital part of what impacts health professionals and their patients. Through the JeffSTARS program, we have many future physicians who learn how advocacy impacts the work they do and what their patients will see. Recently, Lily Segal was a part of our program and she reflected on the impact it had on her and the work she will do as a doctor.
During my month on my advocacy elective, I learned about the importance of big A advocacy, how to make a systemic impact. While individual advocacy in our every practice as physicians is incredibly important and should be engrained in every physician, big A advocacy is another way to make a difference and impact more patients. I learned more about legislation and policy making and how as a physician I can get involved in those to help promote my future patients’ needs. Learning more about big A advocacy inspired me that I could eventually be a part of something large enough to make systemic changes for the patients I once saw experiencing homelessness so that they would not have to face the same hurdles every day.
During my time with AHA, I started to gain crucial skills toward getting involved in big A advocacy. Prior to this, I had no experience with government and legislation. I was able to attend a Philadelphia City Council meeting and the mayor unveiling the budget. I had no idea these were open to the public and it was incredible to hear what City Council’s priorities were for the city in that moment and to hear public opinion about them. Throughout my month with AHA, I learned about the impact of a city’s budget and how to advocate for the allocation of funds to help address health inequities. We specifically looked at the importance of quality early childhood education setting children up for successful futures. With this mission, we paid close attention to the City’s budget to ensure our mission was being addressed. I was able to share this project and stress the importance of advocating for specific programs in a budget, and becoming familiar with budgets, when I met with my peers to discuss our experiences.
I am so appreciative that I was able to work with AHA and learn how to become a more impactful physician. I have even more found appreciation for quality early childhood education, creating a budget, and all the work that goes on behind the scenes working towards making children healthier. This experience has further sparked a passion within me to continue to strive to address health inequities in our society regardless of where I practice. I now feel more confident and comfortable being able to advocate for the health of my patients and communities that I am a part of!