Physicians Must Be the Drum Major for Patient Advocacy

The physician community of Virginia needs to be the drum major when advocating for our patients, our profession, and our communities.

My daughter’s Band teacher would tell his students, “practice, show up, and bring your stuff; good advice for music and good advice for life.”  It’s no secret that medicine is changing, but do we lead the parade for change? Or do we choose to watch from the sidelines?

We know our practice and our patients better than anyone else. We see them at their most vulnerable and we use our knowledge and training to meet their medical needs, but sometimes that is not enough. We must take our practices to the legislative and policy arena to ensure that Virginia is the premier state to practice and receive medical care.  We must show up in the General Assembly and election campaigns, and we need to bring our stuff to these debates. We need to be on the forefront of any and all healthcare policies and change.

We have had multiple legislative successes in the past year when we have brought ourselves forward through MSV.  We know how our practices work and we worked to finally gain success on Balance Billing in spite of significant health plan resistance.  Our success further proves that legislators care about the voices of physicians, PA’s, and patients.

We showed up to advocate for the VMAP program and pushed the legislature to continue expansion of this program for pediatric mental health and added budget coverage. This is a huge step in the right direction for physicians, pediatric patients, and their families.

I am proud that MSV brought science and data to the legislative debate on violence prevention.  Science and data are “our stuff” and legislators were swayed by medical science as they debated these issues. We have that knowledge, lets use it to make positive change.

These successes prove that we can lead the parade on our issues, but a parade is only as strong as the sum of its parts.  In the past few years, the number of us who advocate in the General Assembly is dwindling.  Our year-round support for the MSVPAC is decreasing as well; last year saw the first increase since 2017.  Our profession is being challenged, policies and laws are put in place by non-physicians.  We need to be the leaders making decisions for healthcare.

What can you do?

  • Practice by making advocacy a part of what medicine means for you.  Bring your issues and those of your patients forward.
  • Show up by joining and getting your colleagues to join. Numbers count!
  • Bring your stuff by donating and participating.  Make our legislative voice the strongest in Richmond.

As the leaders of the House of Medicine we need to always practice, show up, and bring our stuff!

Barbara Boardman, MD