By Glen R. Finney, MD, AAN.com Advocacy Editor
The Academy has become one of the preeminent champions of neurology and neurologic care in America and around the world. In 1995 the Academy led the way by developing a Public Policy Fellowship which sent a neurologist to Capitol Hill yearly. In 2003, two innovative programs were added to the Academy's repertoire of advocacy support, the Donald M. Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum and Neurology on the Hill.
Through the Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum, hundreds of neurologists have acquired skills in media relations, grassroots advocacy, and action planning to structure their efforts to improve neurology. Neurology on the Hill has brought hundreds of neurologists to the halls of Congress to speak for neurologists and their patients on key issues to neurology. Academy efforts at Neurology on the Hill have helped forestall cuts in Medicare reimbursement for cognitive services, supported centers of excellence for Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Epilepsy, and contributed to legislation for traumatic brain injury. In recent years, we have placed full-time staff in Washington to represent our concerns to the Federal Government.
I have had the honor of participating in these Academy advocacy efforts, and meeting with numerous neurologists who have as well. There is nothing quite like the exhilarating experience of gathering with fellow neurologists who are passionate about improving the state of care in neurology.
While our primary vision is simply part of the Academy mission to be indispensable to our members, the act of making advocacy indispensable isn't so simple: To begin with, it's not always clear to our members what advocacy actually means. One Academy publication has defined advocacy as "the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy; active support." For neurology, this means taking an active role to support positive change in our health care system for neurology patients, and for the preservation and growth of neurology as a profession.
Many neurologists are already advocates for their patients, though they might not think of it as advocacy. A priority of your AAN.com Advocacy web pages will be to educate about—and promote—advocacy by and for neurologists. The site will strive to illustrate the value of advocacy, and the value of the Academy as a resource for neurology advocacy. The Advocacy web pages will keep members aware of our successes, the challenges we still face, and the ways that neurologists can make a difference. In the coming years we will use a number of methods to accomplish this goal.
As Website Editor for the Advocacy area of AAN.com, it is my hope that you will come to this area regularly and use it as a resource and inspiration for your own advocacy efforts.
Within the past year Dr. Finney received research support from Novartis, for work conduced as a Site Principal Investigator for a study of the Exelon patch in Alzheimer's disease participants.