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From time to time on Neurosurgery Blog, you will see us cross-post articles that we believe are of interest to our readers. Today’s post comes from a recent article in the AANS Neurosurgeon, the official socioeconomic publication of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). In the article, Sarah I. Woodrow, MD, FAANS, outlines the importance of patient advocacy in neurosurgery and lists opportunities for neurosurgeons to get involved.

“Physician advocacy should be part of the daily practice of all neurosurgeons. Many of us advocate for our patients routinely as we participate in their care. It is important, however, to think beyond the needs of an individual patient and engage in system-level advocacy to promote a larger concept of societal well-being,” according to Dr. Woodrow. Opportunities include:

  • Working locally within one’s own health care system or organization to improve access and quality of care to patients, particularly those whose care has traditionally been neglected.
  • Interacting with local media to draw attention to issues faced by patients.
  • Engaging with local or national special interest groups (e.g., ThinkFirst, National Brain Tumor Society and Hydrocephalus Association) to promote ideas such as awareness or disease prevention.
  • Collaborating with colleagues at state neurosurgery medical societies and engaging with the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies — whose role in organized neurosurgery focuses on socioeconomic policy impacting neurosurgery practice and the quality of care delivered to our patients.
  • Engaging with state or federal lawmakers to advocate for legislation and policies that promote equitable health and safety for all.
  • Supporting the AANS/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Washington Committee and the Washington Office, the voice of organized neurosurgery at the national level. The committee, comprised of a cross-section of neurosurgeons, oversees neurosurgery’s health policy and advocacy efforts.
  • Donating to NeurosurgeryPAC, the non-partisan political action committee of the AANS that makes campaign contributions to political candidates that support issues important to neurosurgery.

For neurosurgeons interested in strengthening their role as physician advocates, starting small and local may seem like the best option. For others, organized neurosurgery has numerous opportunities to affect systemic change. Regardless of the approach, Dr. Woodrow notes that neurosurgeons must never underestimate the power of their voice to advocate for patients.

Click here to read the full article in the AANS Neurosurgeon.

Editor’s Note: We hope you will share what you learn from our posts. We invite you to join the conversation on Twitter by following @Neurosurgery and @AANSNeurosurg.

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