As a public health professional, you may be wondering if advocacy has a role in your life. The answer is YES! Here’s what you can do.
Understand your professional responsibility. Public health professionals have a duty to use their expertise and influence to advocate for public health. Advocating for policies and programs that improve health is a fundamental function and core competency of public health professionals.
Stay informed. Policy and budget proposals are changing every day. Follow the news and these national public health organizations to know when your help is critically needed.
- American Public Health Association
- Trust for America’s Health
- A Funding Crisis for Public Health and Safety: State-by-State Public Health Funding and Key Health Facts, 2017
- Protecting the Prevention and Public Health Fund (view how much your state has gotten from the Fund)
Don’t assume all advocacy activities are off limits. Advocacy is taking action to build support for an issue or cause. Many advocacy activities are compatible with employers’ policies, in particular educating policymakers and constituents. Lobbying is a type of advocacy that involves contacting policymakers by phone, email, in-person or otherwise to try to influence their position on specific legislation.
Know your agency. Some organizations prohibit employees from lobbying (not advocacy) altogether. Others have a process in place for approving lobbying activities. Check with your organization’s human resources or public affairs department to clarify.
Act as a concerned citizen. As a private citizen, you generally are free to contact elected officials on your own time, using your own resources to share your personal views. When acting as an individual, you may use your credentials (MPH, RN, MD, etc.), but not your organizational affiliation. Research suggests that in-person visits and individualized emails/letters are more influential phone calls and form emails. When reaching out about a public health matter, consider contacting your Senator or Representative’s Health Legislative Assistant.