pressure, decreasing physician autonomy, and profound changes to the health care system, an active
interest in our health care system is more important
The two surgeon advocates featured in this article had relatively few resources when starting out.
Today, surgeons can receive support from the ACS,
which offers educational materials, including webinars and brochures, talking points to refer to when
e-mailing or calling legislators, legislative updates at
the regional and federal level, and more. In addition,
the ACS hosts the annual Leadership & Advocacy
Summit in Washington, DC, which offers in-depth
advocacy training and in-person opportunities to
meet with legislators on Capitol Hill.
Surgeons interested in advocacy should also
review the advocacy section of the ACS website
and, in particular, information pertaining to the
ACS Professional Association Political Action Committee, which is accessible to all ACS members. 2, 6
These resources offer concise information on current health policy topics and highlight opportunities
to get directly involved in local and national advocacy efforts. Subspecialty organizations and local
chapters have recognized the importance of political advocacy and offer numerous resources geared
toward grassroots advocacy efforts.
The following are suggested guidelines for surgeon advocates:
•Get objective data, and be prepared. Advocating for
our patients is personal and can be emotionally
charged. However, in political advocacy, numbers
and verifiable data count. Every successful advocacy
effort starts by knowing the facts. Be up-to-date on
health policy issues and prepare objective data, which
may come from a variety of sources including patient
surveys, medical literature, national databases, as
well as from such entities as the ACS Health Policy
Research Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
More information on these groups can be found on
their respective websites at www.facs.org/advocacy/
hpri and www.kff.org.
•Connect with local advocacy groups and grassroots
organizations. In many states there are local advocacy
groups and grassroots organizations. Be sure to tap
into the ACS chapters and other surgical societies for
resources and opportunities for collaboration. Think
outside the box—allies don’t have to be exclusively
•Harness the power of the media. Members of the media
can be important allies, as their ability to reach people
allows surgeon advocates to reach a wide audience and
disseminate important health care-related information.
Letters to the editor and guest editorials on a variety
of key health care policy topics may be published in
local newspapers. Be sure to reach out to journalists
who may have access to legislators and who may be
able to connect you with like-minded advocates.
•Contact local legislators after doing your homework.
Preparation is key before approaching politicians about
an issue. Look for legislators who may have a personal
connection to a particular issue or who may have a
special reason to work with you. Obtain objective,
verifiable information, discuss issues in a professional
manner, and be bipartisan. Support can come from
unexpected places and from both sides of the aisle.
The two surgeon advocates featured in this article had
relatively few resources when starting out. Today, surgeons
can receive support from the ACS, which offers educational
materials, including webinars and brochures, talking points
to refer to when e-mailing or calling legislators, legislative
updates at the regional and federal level, and more.