Residents and Fellows Committee: Health Policy in Action

By: Juan F. Javier-DesLoges, MD; Ruchika Talwar, MD; Eugene Rhee, MD, MBA | Posted on: 06 Aug 2021

Despite being conducted via a virtual format, the 2021 Annual Urology Advocacy Summit included an opportunity for trainees to network with one another and urological health policy leaders. Although many medical students, residents and fellows joined this year’s Summit for the first time remotely, trainees were reminded that health policy engagement is most meaningful through consistent communication with elected representatives. The opening portion of this session was led by Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA-08), a former pediatrician who shared her reflections on her journey from clinic to Congress. The congresswoman provided an insider’s perspective on how best to be a physician advocate during Hill meetings, and provided a whirlwind tour of current health policy issues on the docket. During the latter half of trainee advocacy night, urologist leaders shared their expertise on how medical students, residents and fellows can remain engaged to advance various practice issues. Dr. Eugene Rhee led the “Patient and Practice Advocacy” breakout room, Dr. Michael Hsieh led the “Research Advocacy” breakout room, Dr. Amanda North led the “Workforce Advocacy” breakout room, and Dr. Robert Bass led the “Political Advocacy” breakout room. Through this primer, trainees were able to appreciate the various facets of health policy woven throughout academic and community practice.

Opportunities to stay engaged with health policy do not stop with the Urology Advocacy Summit. The American Urological Association Residents and Fellows Committee will feature a panel at the 2021 AUA Annual Meeting on Health Policy. The AUA Public Policy Council also organizes a Resident and Fellows Policy and Advocacy Workgroup, focused on grassroots advocacy issues and education, and the H. Logan Holtgrewe Legislative Fellowship Program.

Going beyond training, the Gallagher Health Policy Scholarship is designed to train the next generation of urologists for leadership positions in health policy. Scholars spend a full year engaged in critical seminars, conferences and meetings at the national level, receive mentoring from AUA physicians in senior roles and participate in a weeklong health policy seminar for surgeons sponsored by the American College of Surgeons and held at Brandeis University. The application cycle for the 2022 Scholar will begin in August and will be announced in December.

The AUA Public Policy Council also has several committees with more than 300 volunteers who serve on these various committees to advance our policy priorities. There are 5 committees that serve under the Public Policy Council: Legislative Affairs, State Advocacy, Research Advocacy, Coding and Reimbursement, and Practice Management. The sum of these committees oversees and investigates governmental, private, professional and socioeconomic issues affecting the delivery of urological care.

Lastly, the American Urological Association, Inc. Political Action Committee (AUAPAC) further raises the house of urology’s profile and fosters relationships with members of Congress in Washington, D.C., thereby providing opportunities to engage lawmakers and strengthen the AUA’s advocacy networks. It represents the broad interests of our domestic membership, which reflects all facets of the urology community. A special giving level program has been created for urologists at all levels (resident to attending) to allow future advocacy leaders to participate in the political process early in their careers (www.myAUAPAC.org). As many of us cannot actively participate in organized health policy opportunities mentioned earlier, giving remains a critical means of supporting these efforts.

In the end, the AUA offers a robust breadth of opportunities to stay involved with heath policy. We look to our members to set the agenda for future advocacy efforts and depend on them to advance the voice of urologists.

Acknowledgment

We thank Kathleen Shanley, PhD, AUA Executive Vice President of Public Policy & Advocacy, for her contributions to this article.

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