Doctors For Change believes that healthcare providers have a unique ability and responsibility to advocate with their patients for improvements to the healthcare system. While many organizations work to address issues like food insecurity and access to care, few have tackled these issues by bringing the medical provider into the public health and policy arena. DFC serves as an educational resource and forum in which healthcare providers, students, and community members can advocate locally and statewide.
Our programs and advocacy efforts fall under the umbrella of one of four focus areas: access to care, mental health, anti-human trafficking, and access to a healthy lifestyle. For instance, in partnership with the Houston Public Library, our ‘Doc Days’ program brings physicians and students into a local library on a Saturday to provide information on healthy living, health coverage options, and cooking demonstrations. The mental health committee offers trainings to primary and secondary school teachers on how to identify students with mental health needs, such as attention deficit disorder and depression. Additionally, the anti-human trafficking committee has created and offers trainings to healthcare providers and medical students on the prevalence of human trafficking, signs that their patient may be a victim, as well as how to safely intervene when a victim has been identified.
Throughout the year we also plan and host educational forums that highlight subtopics within our 4 focus areas. We’ve had forums on veterans’ mental health, challenges and solutions to accessing a healthy lifestyle, the unique challenges and opportunities around adolescent healthcare, and the impact of the built environment on health. Each forum concludes with guests completing an ‘Advocacy Action’ form, indicating whether they would like to share the information through social media, contact their representative on a particular issue, write an op-ed on the topic, or volunteer with DFC. During the legislative session, we also coordinate advocacy days to give providers and medical students hands-on experience with advocacy, and to educate legislators on the impact of health-related legislation and policies.