Advocacy and Policy

The Department of Family Medicine and Community Health supports and encourages the essential role family medicine physicians play as advocates for their patients, community, and profession. These skills are taught longitudinally throughout the residency experience and highlighted in the following educational programs.

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Community Health Course

All residents attend the Community Health course, which highlights the impacts that historical and current policies have on the social determinants of health in our communities. It emphasizes ways family medicine physicians can partner with communities to promote and enhance health. The course culminates with an afternoon of advocacy in which residents explore ways to engage in community and legislative advocacy.

Advocacy Resources

Students, residents, and faculty are encouraged to engage with the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM), as well as through community partners to engage in advocacy.

Advocacy 101

AAFP Advocacy
MAFP Advocacy Blog
MAFP Advocacy Page
MMA Advocacy Action Center 
STFM Free Advocacy Modules


NY Times Option: Tips for Aspiring Op-Ed Writers
UMN Editorial Style Guide
Writing Effective Op-Eds (Duke Communicator Toolkit)

Letter to the editor

Tips on Writing a Letter to the Editor (ACLU)
Writing Letters to the Editor (University of Kansas)

Contacting your representatives

How to contact your state representatives
AAFP Speak Out

Social media guidelines

Social Media Strategy and Best Practices (UMN University Relations)
Social Media Guidelines & Best Practices (UMN Medical School)

Track legislation (state)

AAFP State Advocacy Tracker
MN State Legislature Bill Finder and Tracker

Resident Advocacy Cohort

About RAC

Senior residents have the opportunity to enroll in the Resident Advocacy Cohort (RAC), which meets monthly for one year. Each session, participants learn new advocacy skills and apply them to an issue that is important to family medicine physicians and their communities. Skills taught include using social media, engaging with legislators, writing a resolution and op-ed, and participating in philanthropy.

2023-2024 RAC Application

Read more about the Resident Advocacy Cohort in this article.

Op-eds Authored by RAC Members

Jan 1, 2021: "Take Care of Virus, and Your Hands," Mankato Free Press: By Lance Deeter, DO (Mankato), Rebecca Geiseker, MD (North Memorial), Elaina Hintsala-Fronden, MD (Duluth), and Thuy-Linh Nguyen, MD (Woodwinds)

Dec 21, 2020: "Doctors' View: Myths, Fears about Vaccine Can All Be Dispelled," Duluth News Tribune: By Anthony Hacker, MD (St Cloud) and Mattie Strub, MD (Methodist)

Nov 20, 2020: "Stay at Home: A COVID-19 Red Alert," St. Cloud Times: By Prakhya Bhatnagar, MD (St Cloud) and Kris Schwacha, DO (Smileys)

What Alumni Say

Dr. Julie Amaon

"My participation and what I learned in the Resident Advocacy Cohort (RAC) was integral to my success in my current job right out of residency. I am the new medical director for a reproductive and sexual health startup to serve rural Minnesotans. RAC gave me the push to be more active on social media as a physician. That MD/DO has weight behind it, and it was time to use it.

With all of the important political decisions to be made during these next few months/years, my voice is integral to my patients' health, access to care, and safety. Learning to follow bills through the legislature is integral to anyone working in reproductive health due to the extreme regulations. It was a wonderful group of people with a wide variety of experience and expertise. It was awesome to be able to learn and collaborate with them. I think it should be a part of our regular curriculum in residency because advocating for our patients is part of our job." —Julie Amaon, MD


Rebecca Gieseker, MD

"I've been fortunate to work both on the curriculum planning committee for RAC as well as participate. Through RAC, we have been able to meet with healthcare workers, community leaders, and public officials doing important work within their communities and nationally. It has been incredibly beneficial and humbling to meet with experts in such an intimate group. We also worked on several projects that allowed us to hone our own individual and group skills, including writing letters to the editor/op-eds, contacting and meeting with legislators, forming and maintaining community partnerships, using social media to bring attention to important issues, and many other forms of advocacy work. I have appreciated the guidance of our instructors as well as other RAC participants as we practice these skills." —Rebecca Gieseker, MD


Joe Renier, MD

"RAC has already been instrumental in my ability to be a better advocate, both for my patients and physicians alike. From skills as simple as creating a Twitter account, and having a voice on social media, to physically going to the State Capitol to advocate for a bill, RAC has given me that confidence. I look forward to being vocal in my community of New Richmond, WI, as I move into my post-residency years. I will continue to use the skills that the group has taught to me, and I will continue to teach the next generation of advocates because of what I have learned." —Joe Renier, MD

How to Get Involved

Residents who are interested in joining a future cohort can contact us.

Follow and engage with some of our current and past RAC members on social media:
@RamlaKasoziMD, Ramla Kasozi, MD, MPH - St. John's alum
@KatieStJoes, Katie Freeman, MD - Woodwinds faculty and RAC leader
@giesekermd, Rebecca Gieseker, MD - North Memorial resident
@JoeRenierMD, Joseph Renier, MD - St. John's alum

Alumni are encouraged to get in touch with us and assist with our advocacy mission.

A group of residents learning about advocacy.

Members of the Resident Advocacy Cohort discuss methods to strengthen advocacy work.