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Meeting With Your Legislator

When meeting with your Senator or Representative or their staff, remember that you are there to advise and give them information. They want to talk to you. Although you need to know basic facts about a bill, you are not expected to be an expert on legislative details. You are a physician and/or physician educator, and are there to provide them with the views of an expert in the health care profession. You will be most effective when you speak from you own personal experience as a physician or educator and as a voting constituent in your member's district or state.

Points to Remember:

  • Be candid. Your Representative or Senator recognizes your self-interest, and you need not apologize for it, but if you can also explain how others will benefit, or be harmed, the stronger your argument will be.
  • Be honest. Tell him/her what you think and why. Your representative is interested in what you say, and wants your honest appraisal.
  • Be brief. Your time with the Representative or Senator is limited, and you must make the most of it.
  • Be to the point. Avoid getting into discussions of extraneous subjects.
  • Be a listener. Listen to what is said so that you can respond to it.
  • Be informative. Make sure your Representative/Senator understands the situation you are talking about. Personal anecdotes about your practice, program, etc. can help make your point and will be remembered.
  • Be constructive. If you oppose something, offer a positive alternative, if available. Your representative is looking for solutions.
  • Be accurate. Know you factsyour strongest weapon. Answer questions with facts. If you do not have an answer, don't guess, but promise to provide him/her with oneand follow up.
  • Be understanding. Do your best to present your side favorably and persuasively, but understand there may be times when your Representative/Senator cannot support your position. Keep the meeting friendly, and the relationship going. He/she might be able to support you the next time around.
  • Be gracious. Do not impugn the Representative's integrity or motives. Thank him/her for meeting with you.

Copyright 2015 by Society of Teachers of Family Medicine