Health advocacy training: Why are physicians withholding life-saving care?
The societal responsibility of physicians to be health advocates, both at the population and patient level is necessary to positively influence public health and policy. Physicians must commit to learn about policy reform and the legislative process. Several regulatory physician organizations emphasize the importance of health. In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC) Medical Schools Objectives Project, the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination objectives and several Canadian medical schools outline advocacy as an objective. As a result, several US medical schools have designed and incorporated health advocacy into their curricula. Canadian medical schools, however, have been lagging behind. To address this deficiency, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary hosted the 1st Annual Alberta Political Action Day (PAD) to engage medical students in advocacy and the policy making process. The two-day time requirement of PAD makes it an efficient model to incorporate health advocacy into the already demanding undergraduate medical curriculum. Canadian medical schools must follow the American example and further integrate initiatives such as PAD to teach health advocacy. The skills developed will enhance student's comprehension of how they can shape health policy and truly advocate for optimal patient care. © 2011 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved.