Nearly 50 SVS members took advantage of VAM’s location near Washington, D.C., visiting Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss legislation related to vascular surgery with members of Congress and their staffs.
The meetings were constituent-driven, with members talking with elected officials (and their staffs) from their home districts/states.
“The primary purpose of our trip to the Hill was to establish relationships that help the Society and its members become resources for lawmakers and help educate them on the issues important to the specialty and the patients we serve,” said incoming SVS Advocacy Council Chair Margaret Tracci, MD. “We want them to ask, ‘What do the vascular surgeons think?’”
Progress in advocacy is made through the development of key relationships with members of Congress and their staffs, particularly those who work on healthcare legislation, said Executive Director Kenneth Slaw, PhD.
“The presence of 50 vascular surgeons and staff on the Hill could not be more timely or meaningful in that relationship-building process,” he said. “During the nearly 100 meetings, participants talked about the need to ensure that there is a viable and vibrant workforce of vascular surgeons.”
The day ended “with great momentum, and on a particularly positive note when several influential members of Congress who have been key allies for surgeons visited, offering encouragement and a pledge to continue to work with the SVS to address issues critical to vascular surgeons and patients,” said Tracci.
Slaw concurred. “It was a very successful and productive day and reinforces that SVS and members have a regular presence on Capitol Hill going forward,” he added.
Advocacy at VAM
During Wednesday’s advocacy session, “Member Perspectives on Advocacy—Myths, Facts and Reasons Why all SVS Members Should Engage,” SVS panelists delved into the changing trends in advocacy across different generations and shared ways to make a lasting impact at all levels of engagement.
Leading the interactive session were Margaret Tracci, MD, current vice chair and incoming chair of the SVS Advocacy Council, and Matthew Sideman, MD, current council chair.
Tracci’s presentation on “Elements of effective advocacy” highlighted advocacy’s role in shaping the future of vascular surgery. She emphasized the importance of active member participation, dispelled common myths surrounding advocacy and provided reasons why every SVS member should engage in advocacy efforts.
Sideman provided an overview of SVS’ advocacy and policy priorities. He emphasized the need to advocate for policies that ensure optimal patient care, access to innovative treatments and adequate resources for vascular surgeons.
Sideman will soon pass the torch to Tracci as council chair and offered remarks on his time on the council.
“I’m most encouraged by our increased participation and awareness among the Society. One specific issue we’ve been able to address was the clinical labor update that resulted in a $3.5 billion shift in significant hardships for people who run their own practices. We’ve worked tirelessly on that and, leading a coalition, we have focused on legislation to provide relief. I would’ve liked to have seen that passed into law before my time ends, but I’ll pass the reins to Tracci,” said Sideman.
The panel discussion used the Slido live Q&A platform to allow attendees to share their thoughts, concerns and suggestions about advocating for vascular surgery. Many questions and comments focused on the Capitol Hill visit nearly 50 SVS members had attended the day before.
All the presenters emphasized the need for collective action and urged attendees to become active advocates for the specialty of vascular surgery.
VAM will feature a Friday breakfast educational session from 6:45–8 a.m., highlighting more of SVS’ advocacy-related efforts. It will give participants an overview of the foundations of SVS’ advocacy and policy work, “SVS Advocacy in Action: Work Being Done, Issues on the Horizon and How to Become Involved.”