Examples of Medical Student Advocacy
We have included an interview with a medical student who has experienced success with advocacy as a example to guide your own efforts.
Interview with Swapna Mylabathula, medical student advocate interested in concussion prevention.
1) Summary: Can you briefly summarize the topic and results of your advocacy efforts?
My advocacy efforts are about concussion legislation. My sister and I developed a national policy about concussion prevention, diagnosis, management, and awareness, and are working with a Member of Parliament to promote it in Parliament and hopefully see it passed.
2) Passion: How did this issue come to your attention?
I am an extremely avid hockey fan – I love playing it, watching it, and all. So it was through hockey that this issue came to our attention. When we started our advocacy work in the pre-Crosby concussion time concussions were a rising concern in hockey, and other sports that we’re interested in as well, like football. So we did some research to start things off and get a better understanding of the area – which really took off when Crosby has his unfortunate concussion troubles.
3) Knowledge: How did you gain the relevant background knowledge?
I found it important to gain multiple perspectives of the issue, which we did through different avenues – such as research and our own existing interest in hockey. My sister and I conducted a literature review to become acquainted with the subject. We were also fortunate to be in classes where professors gave great insight from their own research and clinical experiences. We then both did original research on more specific aspects of the area, as well. Speaking with various stakeholders was extremely important, too. It was a somewhat lengthy process, but it was well worth it to become familiar with the different discussions and ideas on this always evolving topic.
4) Connections: How did you form helpful connections?
We were quite lucky to already be in an environment where we were supported by very encouraging people – from our own MP, to academics and brain injury support groups. We found that if you start delving into an area and are very enthusiastic about it and your advocacy, like-minded people often share that enthusiasm and want to help move forward toward that shared goal.
5) Communication: How did you relay your message to key stakeholders?
The most impactful way that we were able to interact with a wide variety of stakeholders was through conferences, meetings, and similar events. Throughout the process, several print/online media featured our efforts and the cause, and this also helped in disseminating the story.
6) Resources: Did you use any helpful advocacy resources along the way?
Our most useful resources were the irreplaceable advice and guidance of the people who were involved in helping our cause along. If we’d had a toolkit like this one, that would have been useful in planning and executing our work based on frameworks or strategies that other students found to be successful over time and in different areas. So I think this toolkit will be very useful for future advocacy efforts!
7) Success: Do you have any advice for students interested in similar advocacy efforts?
I’d say – pick something you’re enthusiastic about because it can be quite the long haul, but it is very satisfying to be able to be involved in an initiative where the aim is to improve people’s lives in some way.
8) Multimedia: Do you have any links to news articles, pictures, videos, etc., of your involvement that you wouldn't mind sharing with us?
9) Swapna has kindly agreed to be contacted for questions: