Monday, November 17, 2014

Advocacy and awareness

CONVERSATIONS ON CAPITOL HILL: From left, Sugai, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Kourosh

For Arianne Shadi Kourosh, MD, of the MGH Department of Dermatology, being an advocate for her patients goes far past the four walls of the clinic. As the state advocacy leader for the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), Kourosh travels every year to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress about issues affecting patient care. This year, she was accompanied by Daniel Sugai, MD, MGH’s first recipient of the AADA resident scholarship.

“The AADA Legislative Conference gives physicians the opportunity to meet members of Congress, be active members of the legislative discussion and provide some direction to the decision process,” says Kourosh. “When I was a resident in Texas, I was granted an AADA resident scholarship, so it was wonderful for me to be able to nominate a fantastic resident like Dan and now mentor him in the advocacy process. Patient advocacy should pervade our practice of medicine and should be an integral part of the training of physicians.”

As a recipient of the scholarship, Sugai was given a front-row seat to the legislative process. When he returned to the MGH, he gave a presentation to his fellow residents about legislation that is currently being discussed.

“It was such a unique experience to be able to learn about the legislative process and meet the people who represent us on Capitol Hill,” says Sugai. “After my presentation to the residents, I noticed my colleagues became interested and more cognizant of the issues at hand.”

One of the most pressing issues addressed at this year’s meeting is the lack of patient access to doctors their treatments stemming from increasingly narrow provider networks. “The AADA has won certain victories, but new challenges always come with the ever-changing climate of health care reform,” says Kourosh. “In the end, it’s important for our patients to know that their doctors are working for them and we are thinking of them even when we are not in the clinic. As physicians, we are not just concerned constituents; we are experts in public health. We are not just representing ourselves – we are speaking on behalf of our patients.”



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