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University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine Primary Care Residency Program

Course last offered: Fall 2002
Page last updated: October 29, 2008

Physician Activism and Advocacy: A Course for Resident Physicians

This two-week course is designed for all of the Internal Medicine Primary Care Residents at the University of Pennsylvania. It is being implemented in November 2002. It is much more limited in scope than medical student courses due to the time constraints in a residency curriculum. Nonetheless, it strives to expose all of the primary care residents to the fundamental skills of activism and methods of incorporating activism into a medical career.

We provide structured interactive sessions in Week 1 that cover basic activism skills such as strategy development and media advocacy.   In Week 2, residents are expected to present a mock campaign strategy, deliver a speech on their assigned topic, perform an interview with a mock reporter, and make a mock lobby visit to their targeted policy maker. In addition, participants will write an op/ed piece and a fact sheet on their assigned topic.  All of the residents will be encouraged to carry out these activities beyond the mock exercises.

Course Coordinator

David Grande, M.D.
Resident, Department of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

Guest Speakers

Karl Stark
Health Care Business Reporter
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, Partners for Child Passenger Safety
Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Goals and Objectives


Participants will better value and appreciate:

  • The role of physicians as community advocates.
  • The social contract between medicine and society.
  • The accessibility of decision-makers and the ability of individuals and organizations to impact policy.


Participants will understand:

  • The principles and key elements of an advocacy campaign.
  • The difference between a problem and an issue.
  • The concept of "Free Media."
  • How to bridge research with advocacy.


Participants will be able to:

  • Develop an advocacy campaign strategy.
  • Speak in front on an audience with confidence and proficiency.
  • Lobby decision-makers in an effective and efficient manner.
  • Work effectively with the media.
  • Translate research findings into meaningful policy change.
  • Provide effective community leadership.


Session I: Monday, November 4th

8:00 - 8:15 AM
Physicians as Agents of Change: An Introduction

8:15 – 8:45 AM
Campaign Strategy Development

8:45   - 10:00 AM
Public Speaking (Flaura Koplin-Winston)
Research-Based Advocacy (Flaura Koplin-Winston)

10:00 - 11:00 AM
Media Advocacy (Karl Stark)

11:00 - 11:30 AM

11:30 - 12:00 PM
The Issues and Group Assignments

Session II: Monday, November 11th

8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Group Presentations

[Break at 9:30 – 10:30 AM for Resident Report]

Team Tasks

Develop your Campaign Strategy

  • Who are you?
  • Who are your Allies and Opponents?
  • Who are the policy-makers and people in positions of power?
  • How will you influence the decision-makers?
  • What tactics will you use to mobilize support?

Lobbying Exercise

  • Choose a policy-maker to target and describe your reasoning.
  • Prepare to make a lobby visit and identify specific reasons why the decision-maker should support your position.
  • Prepare a fact sheet for your lobby visit.

Media Event

  • Develop an event that will earn you “free media.”
  • Write four questions for a reporter to ask you about your issue and develop sound bite answers.
  • Write an Op-Ed piece for a newspaper (250-500 words).


  • Determine audience you are trying to influence (venue).
  • Prepare a persuasive 3-5 minute speech.

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