Don’t discount the knowledge and influence of your legislator’s staff. They have your elected official’s ear and can
move your issue to the top of the priority list.
•Never lose sight of your integrity. The most important
piece of advice both Dr. Zarfos and Dr. Wider had to
offer is that health care policy advocacy is a worthwhile
and noble cause. We became physicians to help patients
in need, and this moral compass is the best guide for successful and honest political advocacy.
Professional success is commonly viewed in terms of
academic or clinical achievement, but the health care
policy-related triumphs led by surgeon advocates deserve
The experiences of the surgeon advocates described
in this article may motivate some surgeons to become
more active in health care policy and provide a template for any surgeon interested in taking up an issue
affecting patient care. In this time of increasing nonmedical influences on daily medical practice, active
involvement in health care policy initiatives may
ensures that we, as surgeons, can shape our practice
environment and continue to provide the best possible care to our patients. ♦
1. Merriam Webster Dictionary. Available at: www.
June 18, 2015.
2. American College of Surgeons. Advocacy. Available at:
www.facs.org/advocacy. Accessed June 18, 2015.
3. Library of Congress. H.R.135–Breast Cancer Patient
Protection Act of 1997. Available at: www.congress.
gov/bill/105th-congress/house-bill/135. Accessed June
4. U.S. Department of Labor. Employee Benefits Security
Administration. Your rights after a mastectomy.
Available at: www.dol.gov/ebsa/publications/whcra.
html. Accessed June 18, 2015.
5. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The
Center for Consumer Information and Insurance
Oversight. Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act
( WHCRA). Factsheet. Available at: www.cms.gov/
CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/Other-Insurance-Protections/ whcra_factsheet.html. Accessed June 18,
6. American College of Surgeons Political Action
Committee. ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC. 2015. Available at:
http://surgeonspac.org. Accessed June 18, 2015.
The most important piece of advice both Dr. Zarfos and
Dr. Wider had to offer is that health care policy advocacy
is a worthwhile and noble cause. We became physicians to
help patients in need, and this moral compass is the best
guide for successful and honest political advocacy.