As a new physician, you are part of a profession that is highly respected by the public and decision-makers. As such, as an individual working on the front lines of health care, you may be called upon from time to time to lend your expertise and personal experience to support your patients or your profession as an advocate.
Over the years, Canadian physicians have been instrumental in achieving real improvements for vulnerable populations, including Canadians living in poverty, children, and refugees. As you are practising, you will likely encounter situations where you may have to advocate on behalf of a patient to ensure they receive the care they need and deserve. Other times there may be a reason for you and your colleagues to advocate on behalf of your profession. Advocacy can help improve an individual situation, or bring to light a problem confronting a broader population.
Advocacy can be as simple as sending a letter or making a phone call, or as involved as participating in an advocacy campaign with your peers, and meeting with elected officials. While taking that first step can be simple enough, your advocacy will have a greater impact if you take an organized, cohesive approach.
Whatever your future advocacy activities or needs may be, the CMA can help you be prepared through its advocacy training program available in person or by videoconference. Advocacy workshops are tailored to your group’s advocacy interests and level of experience. CMA advocacy training helps you identify the decision-makers as well as the right time in the policy development and budget cycle to advocate on an issue. Useful tips on preparing your key messages, using appropriate advocacy tools and how to meet decision-makers and present your ask are also included in the sessions.
Whether you choose to participate in the CMA’s advocacy training or not, your association is behind you and ready to help support your advocacy initiatives throughout your career, through the MD-MP Contact Program. The program matches you to your federal Member of Parliament (MP) and encourages members to meet or communicate with their MP on a regular basis. Program staff also help you schedule meetings and provide you with relevant key messages and background material.
Members of the program can be as active as their schedule allows. You don’t have to be involved in politics to have a reason to connect with your MP. Whether it is part of your commitment to community involvement or to keep your MP informed of local health-related priorities, we can assist with a tailor-made approach that suits your needs.
The CMA monitors the legislative agenda and responds to issues affecting physicians and/or their patients. MD-MP advocates are also invited to help carry our message to their local communities. Through this type of advocacy activity you can add your voice to that of your colleagues in an effort to improve health care for your patients and your profession. As the next federal election draws near, it is important to underscore the health care needs of your constituency to elected officials, and the CMA can help you.
While it might seem daunting at first, advocacy should not be avoided, but rather embraced as one of the many facets of your career. Advocacy can include a series of small steps, but when taken together with your colleagues, they can make a lasting impression.