What Capitol Hill Days Are and Why They’re Important
BY MEREDITH CHECK, M.P.P., MANAGER OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS AND PUBLIC POLICY *Article originally appeared in the ASRT April/May Scanner Publication
ONE OF OUR BEST TOOLS to draw attention to our legislative efforts is a capitol hill day. These events call on advocates to flock to the capitol building and voice their concerns about or support for a specific policy issue.
Enhancing Your Efforts
Capitol hill days are effective at the state and federal level because they get lots of constituents in front of lots of decision-makers. These events are also a great way to make phone calls and letters more successful. James Reaves, B.S., R.T.(R)(MR)(CT), the legislative chair for the Georgia Society of Radiologic Technologists, said he’s seen the positive effect of face-to-face meetings.
“While visiting our representatives, we ask them what really gets their attention. Most of them said it’s a personal conversation — whether at the capitol or over a cup of coffee in their district — that makes a big difference," he said. “It will also make your future letters and phone calls to legislators that much more valuable.”
Additionally, meeting decision-makers face to face and spending an entire day with like-minded advocates is a fantastic way to reinvigorate volunteers and remind them that their work is valuable.
Telling Your Story
Government relations professionals can talk with lawmakers about issues relevant to the medical imaging and radiation therapy profession, such as licensure and the need for state oversight, but it’s difficult to get their full attention.
These elected officials often don’t really understand what it’s like to work in a clinical setting, let alone why R.T.s are a critical part of the health care team. Technologists’ stories, on the other hand, resonate with lawmakers, James said.
“Having a conversation and telling a personal story, being able to answer lawmakers’ questions, that’s what makes a lasting impression.”
Making It Personal
To put it bluntly, without advocates on the ground, policy issues don’t move forward. Your stories and your passion drive home the real-world effect of additional doses of radiation and personal experiences of what happens when radiation safety protocols aren’t implemented or followed. Lawmakers will quote these stories when it’s time to bring validity to policy issues during a committee hearing or a speech on the chamber floor.
“Every day, with every patient we serve, technologists are already great advocates for our profession. It’s not enough, though. We need to tell the world about the work we do,” James said. “I encourage you to join us and defend the future of our profession and our essential role in patient care.”
If your affiliate is considering a day at the capitol, ASRT has resources to help you plan. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.