LEARNING THROUGH ADVOCACY BECOMING AN ADVOCATE
• Through advocacy you can use your personal experiences and experiences of those around you to collectively voice concerns to positively impact public policy. The principal aim of advocacy is to draw attention to an important issue or cause by educating key decision makers about the impact of those decisions on everyday people. You can advocate on a state or national level by discussing issues directly with your elected officials, regulators, and other policy makers. As advocates, your voice and actions can be vital in delivering messages for those who can’t. It’s your voice and actions that make a difference in shaping healthcare policy and initiatives. You have the ability to shine a spotlight on a cause or an issue that may have previously received little attention, and policy makers and regulators will pay closer attention when they hear stories from individuals about their own personal experiences. Your voice and actions can ensure that your rights are upheld, and that issues you think are important don’t go unnoticed. Policy makers look for ways to better understand the issues that are important to their constituents, and regulators are open to hearing how the law and policies that they implement have a direct impact on patients. And it is your voice and actions that can help them do just that! How Important Are Voice and Actions?
An advocate is an individual who stands up for – and supports the rights of – another individual or group of individuals. You can be your own advocate or you can advocate on behalf of other people with similar interests or concerns. Have you ever encouraged another person to learn more about a particular issue? You were an advocate, helping to educate others. Have you ever asked questions to your doctor about your own treatment, or the treatment of a loved one? You were an advocate, learning more about your disease. Advocates can take on many different roles, including: • Looking out for the best interests of a family member going through treatment • Speaking in a public forum for a particular issue or cause that’s important • Meeting with an elected official, regulators, or other policy makers about an important healthcare issue What Is Advocacy? Advocacy is an opportunity to educate others about an issue or cause that is important to you. Advocacy can begin with the concept of an idea and can continue all the way through the legislative process until that idea becomes law. Advocacy carries over into the development of rules and regulations through the regulatory process. • Through advocacy you can engage with elected officials when they are in the process of making laws, and with regulators as they go through the process of implementing those laws. • Through advocacy you can educate elected officials, regulators, and other policy makers who make decisions that affect people’s lives.
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