By: Luis Chiriboga, PhD, HT(ASCP), QIHC(ASCP)
Perhaps you have championed a cause and in so doing, supported someone or something you believe in. In essence, you were advocating. Advocates present the views and wishes on behalf of an individual or group so that authority or other government leaders will consider these factors when making decisions. Since decisions leaders make can directly affect an individual, advocating helps safeguard the rights of that individual or group. In its simplest form, advocacy is educating leaders’ about the impact of the public policy decisions they are contemplating. Advocacy is not about partisan politics and it is definitely not about political candidates. It is also different from lobbying.
Lobbying is any attempt to influence a politician or official in order to sway the outcome of legislation. Advocacy is about helping policy and decision makers understand how the issues we care about will be impacted by the decision they make. In this way, we can work to improve the laws, policies and systems that affect us as a community. In fact, we are the most powerful advocates available to officials because no one is more knowledgeable about the work we perform. We have a tremendous opportunity to be the most persuasive and influential advocates for the histology profession.
Just because you may be far-removed from the legislative and regulatory process, does not mean that you cannot be an advocate, actually quite the opposite. For a group to be effective in advocating for change, we all need to engage and be informed so that we can collectively influence the leaders who make decisions. As the saying goes, “there is strength in numbers”. Having a strong member driven professional organization supporting advocacy efforts is crucial in order to provide legitimacy to the endeavor.
NSH has embarked on an advocacy campaign with a principle goal of seeking professional recognition for histologists and the histology community. This is a long sought after goal, but it is also important because it sets the foundation for the future credibility of the histology profession. By campaigning for this goal, the society is shaping the future by creating an environment of professionalism and excellence that assures high quality healthcare. Not only has the society and its leadership embraced this idea but they provide a number of resources to help all of us stay connected to the constantly evolving medical field. Educational opportunities keep us abreast of new technology and techniques, networking with our peers helps keep us informed and engaged, and partnerships with other organizations present opportunities to influence health care policy on a broader scale.
So, how do you start? Be knowledgeable, stay abreast of the issues that affect our field. Talk to your colleagues and engage in discussions on the changes you would like to see. Get involved; seek out opportunities to speak up to other medical professionals and the public. Remember, no one will speak for us so be a positive voice of the profession and advocate for the changes that will ensure the future of histotechnology.
Join us at the Legislative Symposium in Washington, DC, March 16-17th, 2020 to advocate on behalf of histotechnology.