Advocacy Tools for FPs

Timely Facts & Accurate Information Can Make the Difference

Having pertinent and timely facts to support the positions of family medicine is critical for effective advocacy. To help members communicate the key positions of the chapter, the NCAFP prepares periodic Issue Briefs on health policy and regulatory topics of key interest. Family physicians can also draw upon AAFP's Robert Graham Center in Washington as an excellent source of original research findings, including handy one-page briefs. The NCAFP and AAFP will continue to publish items that can be used by physicians to inform and educate their patients and policy makers.

North Carolina Key Legislative Resources

Fact Sheets on Family Medicine

Under Development

Interactive Resources

The AAFP and the Robert Graham Center provide a growing list of web-based tools that help physicians communicate the value of family medicine and primary care.


Lobbying Tips & Insights for Family Physicians

You can make a difference and the reason is simple -- things have changed dramatically in federal and state government. The days when influencing legislative action meant directly lobbying a handful of powerful party leaders and committee chairs are over. Today, every state legislator has a much greater impact in the legislative debate, because the role of individual legislative leaders has been diminished. This means the approach to influencing legislation has changed as well. Active, informed constituents--individual voters like you--now have a more important role to play in the legislative process. In today's legislative arena, you can truly make a difference.  As a voter, you have power over your state legislators. To remain in office, legislators must satisfy their constituents. In fact, elected officials want to do a good job representing the interests and views of those they were elected to serve. They value the input of informed and concerned constituents. This section is designed to give you tips that you can use to communicate more effectively with your elected officials--in letters, on the phone, and in face-to-face meetings.

Getting to Know Your Elected Officials

Here are a number of easy to remember ways to improve your advocacy experience with your elected official:

  • Make yourself an information source by providing your officials with current healthcare information. tell them to contact you if any health-related issues come up or if they have any questions.
  • Communicate with your elected officials through occasional visits, calls, and letters, but don't be a pest.
  • Invite or encourage your practice to invite officials to visit your facilities.
  • Attend candidate meetings during elections and introduce yourself.
  • Participate in your legislators' town meetings.
  • Work on the campaigns of those candidates whose views are closest to your own.
  • Contribute money to your chosen candidates, on your own or through FAMPAC.
  • Regularly ask the question, "How can I help?"

Tips for Composing an Effective Letter, Fax or Email

Here are some things to keep in mind when you write a letter to an elected official:

  • Write only to your own elected officials. They're the ones you have the power to help elect or defeat.
  • Write as a constituent, using your home address and/or practice letterhead.
  • Identify your subject clearly-describe the legislation about which you are concerned, and identify it by bill number if you can.
  • Stick to one issue-don't raise a host of issues.
  • Be brief.
  • Stress the public benefits or harm that will result from the legislation you are discussing.
  • Emphasize how the legislator's constituency will be affected by the legislation.
  • Support your position with facts.
  • Avoid angry or abusive comments, and never threaten to retaliate at the polls.
  • Point out how your background and experience make you an authority on this matter.
  • Avoid jargon and technical details.
  • Ask the legislator to support your position.
  • If you don't get a reply, or if you get one that is unsatisfactory, write again or call.
  • If the legislator votes your way, write or call to say "thanks."  If he or she doesn't vote with you, send a note of thanks for considering your position. Either way, the official will know you're watching.

Tips for Calling Your Legislator

A telephone call can be a very effective way to communicate with an elected official. Follow the general approach outlined in "Tips for Composing an Effective Letter," and make sure you ask for the legislator's support.  Your state legislators have offices in Raleigh and some have offices in their home districts. Reaching your legislator's office by phone is straightforward. Use the House or Senate link provided and visit the member's website. Telephone number, fax, email address, and local contact information are all available at the NC General Assembly website.

  • Whether you call your legislator in his or her local district office or in Raleigh, ask to speak with the member directly. Don't be surprised if you are told the legislator is unavailable.
  • If the legislator is unavailable, ask to have your call returned.  Most legislators will call you back.
  • Always follow up your call with a brief letter thanking the official and the staff member by name for their time and interest, and restating your position.

Tips for Meeting With Your Elected Official

You can arrange a meeting with your elected official the same way you would arrange to visit any business or community leader. Follow these steps when organizing your meeting:

  • Try to meet your legislator in the home district, rather than in Raleigh, whenever possible. He or she visits the home district regularly to "keep in touch," and there are fewer distractions.
  • Call the legislator's office and identify yourself as a constituent.
  • Explain to the staff person who takes your request the nature of your concern, and indicate that you would like to arrange a brief meeting with the legislator.
  • If the legislator's calendar is full, ask if he or she will be available in the near future.
  • If the legislator will not be able to meet with you before he or she votes on your issue, ask to meet with the staff person who is handling the issue or is most familiar with the issue.
  • If a meeting can be arranged, send a brief written communication to the scheduler confirming the specifics of the meeting - including the date, time, location, and topic for discussion.
  • To prepare for the meeting, follow the same basic steps outlined in "Tips for Composing an Effective Letter."
  • Provide a one-page summary of the issue you wish to discuss and the arguments in your favor. You should leave this material behind after your visit.