A First Timer’s Take on the ACC Fellow in Training Advocacy Day

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When one thinks of Washington, DC, politics, and advocacy, two things come to mind: large organizations such as the ACC and powerful lobbyists.

Indeed, only large organizations with significant lobby potential have the power to make change in DC, right?

As a trainee, I had never considered myself an advocate in any formal capacity. However, I always advocated for my patients when I spoke on their behalf with insurance companies to request authorization for medications that would make a difference in their life.

Perhaps for this reason, I did not think twice when offered the chance to travel to DC as part of ACC's 2019 Legislative Conference, and formally advocate for patients and physicians on a broader scale.

After a briefing on key issues being discussed in Congress, I met with my ACC Ohio Chapter members and we created a plan for how we would best approach the many lawmakers representing the great state of Ohio.

Seasoned advocates guided us through the initial intimidation of speaking to our congressmen and congresswomen.

We quickly found that despite our newness to advocacy, we were well equipped to use our daily experiences caring for patients to advocate for the many issues facing ACC members.

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We provided anecdotes of our patients waiting months for a critical drug therapy or procedure because of the arduous process of obtaining prior authorizations.

I found the experience rewarding and inspiring. Our voice was stronger than could be imagined, and we found a great sense of achievement in making a difference for our patients and the greater medical community.

As an internal medicine resident, I found my experiences were just as relevant to our purpose as were those of my cardiology fellow colleagues, which was tremendously empowering.

From now on, when I think of DC and politics, I think not of bureaucratic organizations and lobbyists but of the strength of my voice.

I now look forward to the opportunity to participate again on the next ACC Legislative Conference.

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This article was authored by Ali Hasnie, MD, a third-year internal medicine resident at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio.