Physicians are powerful advocates. They use their voices to become involved with the legislative process and medical students can too.
The General Assembly (Lower House+Upper Senate) of Rhode Island is only in session from January to July; that is when bills and laws will be proposed/passed and when you'll make any progress at the state level. If you already know of a bill that you strongly wish to support or defeat, you have a couple of options: you could testify at a committee hearing , write to a committee member, or call your legislator's staff.
View the legislative Committee Calendars page in order to see when and where committee hearings are held and what will be discussed at each hearing. Each agenda will also say if testimony will be heard since the meetings are open to the public. You can participate in the hearing by speaking or submitting written testimony. In order to pursue either of those options, you need to sign-up with forms that are available in the hearing room.
Calling to speak to legislators' staff would also be a great bet, but be sure to do your research ahead of time. Always provide context for why your contact is important to them: they care about your issue, they represent you (i.e. you vote them into office), there is similar legislation elsewhere, etc. Legislative staff can provide background information, set up meetings, and in general may be much more effective than emailing the legislator directly. Follow up every 2 days until you receive a response.
To research legislature, head to the Legislative Information page on the GA's website. There, pay special attention to the following sections:
To be alerted when a particular bill is scheduled for hearing or consideration, use the Bill Tracker (you'll have to make an account) and enter the bill numbers you want to be alerted for.
Later on this academic year, Citizen Physicians will host workshops on how to effectively testify at committee hearings and how to write a meaningful letter to committee members to ensure your voice is heard. We'll be sure to write up blog summaries of those events as well.
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This blog post contains information from Steve DeToy, Rhode Island Medical Society (RIMS) Director of Government and Public Affairs. Thank you Steve!
This blog post also contains information adapted from Emily Flower's presentation to students at the Alpert Medical School. Emily Flower is a volunteer with Generation Citizen. Thank you Emily!
James Tanch, a medical student at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Director of Technology and Blog Editor for Citizen Physicians