One of my main philosophies as a healthcare provider was to empower my patients and form a relationship where we both make decisions as a team. Many times as a patient myself, I felt as though I didn’t have all the information to make an informed decision regarding my own health. I felt lost and vulnerable instead of in charge and confident regarding my healthcare decisions. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way given that patients, especially in underserved communities face various health disparities that are many times discussed at a local, state, and federal level. However, unfortunately, living in underserved communities also can mean that their voices are not often times heard as loudly as we would want them to be. So how can we change that? How can we not only advocate for our patients but also help our patients advocate for themselves. One of the best way to do that is voting for individuals and propositions that alight with the communities needs. Another is to educate, provide resources, and help patients feel more in control of their health outcomes.
I have always been interested in policies, polities, and advocacy but now as a physician I have made an effort to be more involved and make sure that as a physician my perspective is heard regarding issues that will ultimately impact myself in addition to my patients. What does advocacy mean to you? Advocacy can be a simple post on social media, a conversation with your friends, or simply asking a patient if they feel heard during their visit. It can also mean meeting with leaders on a local or state level and speaking on behalf of organizations about important issues impacting the communities that you serve. So I encourage you all to advocate for yourselves and your patients. I encourage you to speak up not just during an election year but every day because sometimes your voice is the only one that your patient may have.