Patient-centered voting

Taking a holistic approach to voting in the 2024 election

Syed Rizvi, OMS III, discusses the importance of voting and what goes into choosing one’s representatives.


The buzz around the 2024 U.S. presidential election is increasing as citizens prepare to head to the voting booths to determine the future leadership of the country. While the central question typically revolves around who the next president will be, the ballot also features numerous names and items that will significantly influence regional developments in the coming years.

If we think about how each voting district contributes to America’s political landscape, we can appreciate the parallel to our osteopathic core principle of addressing the interconnectedness of the body’s structure and function. So, as you contemplate which box to check on the ballot, here are a few ideas on how to approach voting holistically and how to get involved beyond voting.

Preventive politics

In our role as osteopathic physicians, caring for the entire patient population is crucial, and being compensated for providing such care is equally important. The AOA diligently advocates for this message, emphasizing the interdependence of care and compensation. However, challenges persist, such as navigating new Medicare cuts. Beyond this, various health care priorities impact clinicians nationwide.

Each year, the AOA passes resolutions addressing health care concerns and advocates for specific bills and health policy during DO Day. This year, DO Day will be held virtually April 13-14 and in person April 17-18. As voters, we have the power to influence the trajectory of health care. Before heading to the polls, become an informed voter and ensure the box you check aligns with your vision for the future of medicine.

Collaborative governance consult

Just as different medical specialists may offer varied recommendations, lawmakers may approach health care from diverse perspectives. Consider reaching out to your elected officials for a health care consult. Actively participate in shaping policies and health care decisions by extending a helping hand.

Elected officials represent you, and they rely on input from individuals within their districts. If they lack a health care task force, propose starting one. Your expertise is valuable in bridging the gap between medical practice and policymaking.

In 2024, societal needs, like advancements in medicine, are dynamic. It’s imperative for us to acknowledge that hearing every voice is challenging, and interest groups serve as representatives for specific concerns. The AOA offers opportunities at the federal, state and local levels for DOs and osteopathic medical students to become a voice for patients, the profession and future physicians.

Political involvement shouldn’t be confined to just election cycles—join state osteopathic societies, participate in committees and contribute to discussions at the state and national levels. Advocating throughout the term can have long-term, positive impacts that affect us all.

Choosing your representatives

Elections are a cornerstone of democracy, allowing everyone to participate in decisions that impact the nation. When deciding who represents your voice, take a holistic approach and try to thoroughly understand the candidates. Your knowledge about your and your patients’ needs is unparalleled. Actively engage, build connections and collaborate with those in power to influence health care decisions and priorities.

Balancing medical school with the civic responsibility one feels can be very demanding. But it is important to note that even a little bit of advocacy can go a very long way. My personal approach was also to start local by joining my school’s Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA). As I became introduced to the intricacies of the medical-political realm, I took it one step higher at a time by joining my state’s osteopathic association, serving on their student liaison committee and applying/serving as the national liaison officer with my local SOMA chapter.

After solidifying this foundation, I then sought out national positions within the National SOMA and Omega Beta Iota, the medical-political honors society. When I can, I meet with my local congressional representatives that I previously met during DO Day. If they have a health care related question, I can either answer it or find someone who will.

Through each of these avenues, I have made sure that my voice was recognized and remembered that I bear the opinions and voices of many. Do not be shy—it is usually the first step that is the hardest to take, but with time and experience you will quickly learn how needed your voice is for your patients and peers within the osteopathic community.

Let’s collectively adopt this osteopathic approach to voting in the 2024 election and educating our lawmakers. And after the 2024 election, let’s work together to ensure that those who commit to representing us follow through on their ideals.

Want to learn more?

Sign up for DO Day to hear Rizvi talk more about this topic through his presentation “Embracing a Holistic Perspective on the Political Process.”

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.

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Advocacy should be a medical education core competency

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