Fresh start

New Year’s advocacy resolutions

This year, I made three New Year’s resolutions centered around advocating for my patients and my profession.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve written New Year’s resolutions. When I was in college, the list included goals like, “get straight As” and “learn a new language.” Medical school was a little more realistic, in the realm of “pass your classes” and “count to 10 in French.”

My time in med school also taught me to be intentional with my goals, so last year when I started residency, my New Year’s resolutions for 2022 looked a lot different. I had a new half-year of experience as a resident to remind me why I wanted to do well academically and be able to communicate better with those around me in the first place, because I now held the responsibility of being someone’s doctor.

The first resolution I wrote last year: “Learn how to be a better advocate for my patients.” It was the first on my list of 10, and I’ve kept that list in my memory box all year next to the other lists from my past. I admit that some of my previous resolutions have been written at five minutes to midnight because it turns out you can still be intentional and procrastinate at the same time, but this year, my resolutions are ready to go.

They embody 10 of the most enjoyable things in my life, and the first three (in no particular order because I do place “try every afternoon tea in New York City” pretty high on that list) are connected to the way I best care for my patients — through advocacy. Usually I just share my resolutions with the ether, but this year, I’d like to share them with all of you.

My 2023 New Year’s advocacy resolutions:

1. Complete an advocacy elective.

Some resolutions are grand, like “save the world.” Some are more specific and integral to my role as a resident. In 2023, I plan to pursue an elective that directly allows me to strengthen my advocacy skills. Whether that’s working for a major news organization that discusses health topics with people all over the United States or learning how to better prioritize preventive health through my state’s department of health and mental hygiene, by the end of the year, I hope that I’ll have used my elective for something intentional that includes advocacy. 

2. Connect with my local representative’s office.

One of my favorite events held by the AOA each year is DO Day. As someone who plans to pursue a fellowship in health policy, it feels like an early peek into what my future career might hold. Along with other medical students and residents, I get to speak to legislators about topics that impact the people I see in my community every day. It’s kind of surreal.

Still, every year, I haven’t quite figured out how to follow through on that connection to lawmakers. Now that I’m a resident physician in Washington Heights, New York, I want to learn how to better connect with the representatives who serve the same people that I do so that I can better support them when it comes to health care policy. 

3. Learn how to be a better advocate for my patients.

I imagine this goal isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Every year, I learn something new about advocacy, and every year, I feel like I get just a little better at it. When I first learned about health care advocacy and policy during my third year of med school, I was both excited and aimless. I wanted to do it, but I had no idea how.

Through joining Omega Beta Iota, the national osteopathic political action honor society, and attending events like DO Day, I found a way to start. Now, I continue through daily interactions with my patients and a knowledge of the support systems my community has in place for me to use.

Through my participation in organizations such as The AOA’s Bureau of Federal Health Programs, where I learn from physicians well-established in their practice and their own advocacy. Through writing resolutions and articles for the AOA, participating on DEI commissions in my specialty (family medicine), and constantly seeking mentors who do the work that I one day hope to do after residency. Through every experience I gain and every person I learn from, I learn how to be a better advocate each day.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

Fighting for what’s right: How a Pennsylvania DO is supporting patients who are battling addiction

Physician advocacy: Tips for communicating with legislators via phone, letters and face-to-face

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