Since returning from the American Chiropractic Association's National Chiropractic Leadership Conference, I've had some time to reflect on my experience. I've been going to NCLC for many years, but I still come back every time a little changed ... and pumped to do more for my profession. That feeing is not uncommon, based on what I've heard from others and seen in comments on social media. The takeaway (whether you attended NCLC or not): being an advocate for your patients and your profession is doable.
Next Steps: Relationship Building
So, I'm back now; what can I do? I emailed John Falardeau, ACA's senior vice president of public policy and advocacy, to find what my next steps should be. Without hesitation, John said to me, "Follow up on your congressional visits! You have a prime opportunity now to use your face-to-face visit as a springboard to an ongoing relationship with the people who represent you. You need to continue to educate them about our issues."
John explained that ACA members made more than 380 visits on Capitol Hill during NCLC 2019. Information was exchanged and stories about successful patient encounters were shared. I know a lot of people leave those meetings feeling a tremendous sense of accomplishment ... and they should! But Capitol Hill being what it is, there was surely another group with another set of issues right behind them. The pace moves quickly in D.C.
3 Easy Ways to Maintain the Connection
- Send an email with some information that was not readily available during the time of the visit.
- Answer a question that was asked a little more comprehensively, providing any related research or evidence that might be supportive.
- Ask the person (member of Congress or staff member) if they had any questions after reviewing the informational handouts that were left behind with them.
Didn't Attend NCLC? Then Start Locally
Even if you didn't go to NCLC, you can start that relationship locally. You can reach out and let the local offices of your members of Congress know you are a resource of information about chiropractic (and that the ACA is a resource for you if questions do come up that you don't feel comfortable answering).
John said another thing that stuck with me. He mentioned that there are 101 new freshmen in the U.S. House and Senate. Those 101 individuals need to be educated about chiropractic and how it fills an important niche in health care as non-drug pain relief – especially as the opioid epidemic continues to take its toll nationwide. No state has been spared from this public health crisis.
What's Your Plan?
Perhaps never before in the chiropractic profession's history has our relevance and ability to make a positive impact been more evident. It seems so obvious, but the truth is, we still need to do the work to connect the dots for others who are in a position to move things in the right direction by expanding access to chiropractic services. That's my plan for the next year; what's your plan?
Editor's Note: See News in Brief in this issue for a review of this year's NCLC, which also served as the setting for the ACA's annual meeting.
Click here for more information about Douglas R. Briggs, DC, Dipl. Ac. (IAMA), DAAPM, EMT.