Advocacy Workshop: Turning Science and Beliefs into Policy

Ross Frommer (JD) and Heather Krasna (PhD, MS, EdM)

Good ideas are wonderful, good ideas supported by evidenced-based practice are even better.  But how do health care experts, professionals, students, and patients convert these good ideas into policy? In this session we will attempt to have students learn some very basic advocacy skills and apply those skills in a mock lobbying visit with an elected official or other policy maker. Students will hopefully leave the session will a better understanding of policy making and lobbying, thus making them a more effective advocate for their professions, their schools, the things they personally believe in, and their patients.


The session will start out with introductions and a very brief overview of lobbying and advocacy from Ross Frommer, Vice President and Associate Dean for Government and Community Affairs for CUIMC. Heather Krasna, Assistant Dean of Career Services at Columbia Mailman, will then provide information on how students can advocacy skills incorporate in their career plans. (15 minutes)


After this, most of the students will break off into small groups where they will be assigned a health-related federal issue on which they will advocate, and will be given a short brief about the issue. They will decide who they wish to represent (a professional association, student association, patient advocacy group, industry) and what their “ask” is.  They will also be informed as to which elected official(s) they will be meeting with, and given the opportunity to research that elected official’s views and voting history on the issue. They will then work on talking points and pick two or three members of the group who conduct the mock lobbying visit.


Three to four students will not be part of one of the groups, but will instead play the role of an assigned a Senate or House staff member. The assigned members will purposely be diverse in terms of their party and ideology. During this period, they will take the time to learn about the assigned Senator/House member so they can effectively engage in a discussion with the advocates.
(25 minutes)


The groups will then conduct lobbying visits with the selected staff members in almost a speed dating type of setup with each group ideally making their case to each Senate staff member who will then rotate around the room (time permitting, depending on the number of “advocacy groups”).  Advocates will need to shape their argument to their audiences (25 minutes)
After the entire group will reconvene and discuss.  The staff members will give feedback on what they arguments.  Ross and Heather will chime in as well as appropriate.  (10 minutes)