What do you do when you have a group of enthusiastic students that are ready to end AIDS in this generation? You give them an opportunity to advocate for change!
- Pick an HIV/AIDS health policy issue that is current. (i.e. TPP, Global Fund, PEPFAR, etc.)
Many students are under the misconception that they need to be an “expert” on the bill before they can advocate for a policy. This is NOT true! As future physicians, we all have stories of what happens in our communities through our patients and this makes our voices even more powerful. In order to be an effective advocate, all you need to do is make contact with your legislator show them how passionate you are about the issue, tell them why they should care, and REPEAT!
Take a look at this blog entry on why it’s important for doctors to speak up for patients: http://www.themspress.org/blog/the-doctor-as-the-advocate/
- Host a speaker that will provide some background information on the policy
AMSA frequently works with other organizations like HealthGap, Partners In Health, Student Global AIDS Campaign, and RESULTS on the same policies. Feel free to reach out to these organizations or maybe even a professor at your school that is willing to give a short overview about the current situation and how advocacy is necessary to make change. Don’t forget that you can always have the speaker skype-in or if you personally feel comfortable enough to introduce the issue, by all means, take the lead!
- Print out handouts with additional background information and a call-in script (see below for example script)
Doing a quick Google search on the topic can lead you to a ton of information on the HIV/AIDS policy. Below is a list of websites commonly uses:
Global Fund: http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/
Feel free to contact AAN at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional resources and contacts!
- Send out a RSVP, reserve a room and buy lunch for students
When sending out a RSVP sheet, make sure to ask students which state they’re from or their zip code. Use this great tool by RESULTS to research your member of congress by zip code: http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/. This can help you guide the session towards targeting specific congressional leaders and save time researching legislators during the session!
Free lunch always attracts students and this is a great way to meet other members in your chapter! You can always host a brown bag lunch and have students bring their own lunch if funds are limited.
- Set up a schedule for the session (see below for example)
- Tally the number of calls made to which legislators and continue to encourage students taking their first step in advocacy
Calling a legislator can be a pretty intimidating task for students, especially if it’s their first time. Doing a demo call in front of all students can help break this barrier by showing how easy and empowering it is! Make sure to throw around high-fives and keep the energy high because you all are making a true difference in the community!
Keep in mind that visits like these are only the start to a long, fruitful relationship with the office. Always follow up to keep that energy going!
- Take pictures of the event and share them on AAN’s Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/AMSA.AAN/
Total Session: 12pm-1pm
12:00- 12:05pm Have students grab lunch and a copy of all handouts
12:05- 12:30pm Speaker/Students introduces the issue and performs demo call
12:30- 12:50pm Have students break into groups by state and make calls
12:50- 1:00pm Answer questions and talk about follow up actions
Sample Call-In Scripts:
“Hi, my name is ____ and I am a medical student at _________ and a member of the American Medical Student Association. I care about increasing access to generic medicines for people in the US and around the world and I am very concerned about the upcoming vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Doctors Without Borders has called this agreement, “the worst trade deal ever for access to medicines”. Many will likely die without access to drugs including biologics, drugs used here in the US to treat cancers. Can we count on Congressman _______ to oppose the TPP in November?”
“Hi, my name is ________. I am a 2nd year medical student and a member of the American Medical Student Association. I recently traveled abroad on a medical mission trip and volunteered at a clinic where we treated patients with HIV. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provides life-saving treatment to several third-world countries however, several budget cuts have been preventing our progress. Will Congressman ____ commit to supporting a full replenishment funds to end AIDS in 2030?”
Best of luck and let AAN know if you have any questions! (email@example.com)