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AAMC 2014: Engaging Non-traditional Advocates and Voices


Wayne State University created a program called the Medical and Political Action in the Community (MPAC) program to train students to be advocates for the university. MPAC currently has more than 120 first and second year medical students engaged in advocacy. 

Objectives of MPAC:

  • Basic understanding of health policy and political processes
  • Inform students about effective advocacy strategies
  • Provide real—world opportunities to advocate
  • Address knowledge gaps on key external affairs topics (communications, fundraising, etc.) 

Through these objectives, MPAC hopes to create a group of students who know the issues and know how to be advocates for health care. 

Rondah Marks: Engaging children in educating people about the mission of the AMC

People don’t buy into plans. They buy into dreams. What you do isn’t as important as why you do it. Univ. of Mississippi conducted a marketing campaign to educate consumers about what an academic medical center is. One part of that campaign was a video featuring the children and grand children of employees. 

Why a kids video?

  • Simple clear explanation of an AMC
  • Internal morale builder- employer involvement
  • Different from messages in the marketplace
  • Promote health system goals


  • Top of mind awareness increased 13% TOM
  • Preference among other health systems increased 26%
  • Perception of having the doctors went up 9% 

Kristy Simms: Engaging Students in Governmental Affairs

Students are natural advocates. Simms took three first year medical students as a delegation to Washington DC. Students were able to meet individually with staff for each of the for House offices. They were also able to meet with key senate leaders. 

Goals of the delegation:

  • Introduce students to policymakers–and vice versa–and strengthen the relationship
  • Put a real face on the issues
  • Encourage an active role in policy among the next generation of physicians 

Tip: Don’t try this without support of your government affairs staff. 

Brock Banks, a first year medical student, went as part of the delegation. Banks thinks that part of the reason it was successful is that medical students are a mission-oriented group. They know why they’re there. This carried over to the delegation trip. They knew they were there to communicate issues that were important to the state of Mississippi, including the need for physicians in the state.


Doug Skrzyniarz, MHSA – Associate VP of Government Affairs, Wayne State University School of Medicine

Rondah Marks – Chief Marketing Officer, the University of Mississippi Medical Center

Kristy Simms – Director, Government Affairs & Economic Development, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Brock Banks – Medical Student, The University of Mississippi

By: Aaron Lovell

Aaron Lovell is a communications specialist for University of Utah Health Sciences.