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How to Arrange a Congressional Site Visit

Apr 09, 2010

I DECIDED TO SCHEDULE A SITE VISIT after participating in ASHP’s Legislative Day in September. There I met with Representative Jerry Moran and his legislative aide for health care, and we discussed ASHP’s key advocacy issues, including health care reform, provider status, medication therapy management, loan forgiveness, and residency funding. I told the congressman that I’d like to show him how health-system pharmacists in his district are a critical element in health care.

Linda Radke, Pharm.D. (left) and Representative Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) (right)

I followed up with the health care aide, who gave me the contact information for Representative Moran’s scheduler in our home district. I spoke with her in September, at which point she warned me that his schedule can get tight. Then, in December, she called with three days notice for the visit! The congressman could only stay for 30 minutes, so it was important to keep the visit concise but meaningful.

Being well prepared helped. I had already met with my hospital’s administration about how to plan the visit and the marketing department regarding logistics and publicity. ASHP really helped me prepare, too. I received great information about key legislative issues that I could share, and I sent Representative Moran an e-mail highlighting those. He actually read it in advance, which helped us make the most of his visit.

Building a Lasting Relationship

My ultimate goal is to build an ongoing relationship with the congressman, so I looked for other ways to keep in touch. First, I signed up for his This Week in Congress electronic newsletter. When one of the newsletters included his reasons for voting against the health care bill, I e-mailed him and reminded him about the issues we had discussed during our Legislative Day visit.

Because he had only 30 minutes, we had to make Representative Moran’s site visit as high impact as possible. As part of the pharmacy tour, we watched one of our technicians prepare her IV run, which allowed us to talk about technician training programs being developed in Kansas. A student from the University of Kansas was on rotation and talked about her plans to pursue a PGY1 and PGY2 administrative residency and master’s program. This presented a great opportunity to talk about my hospital’s plans to develop a residency program, as well as residency funding issues. We also went to a patient floor and met with a clinical pharmacist who described a typical day and his unique role in patient care.

Reaching Out to Media

My marketing department had helped reach out to the local media, but the congressman’s office had done so, as well. I was thrilled to see a notice in my local paper the day before the congressman visited us. The newspaper sent a reporter who met with the congressman at the end of the visit, which resulted in a short article with a picture. Our state affiliate featured an article in its newsletter, and my hospital is planning to include an article in our quarterly newsletter. I couldn’t resist putting pictures from the visit on my Facebook page!

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