Advocacy for Dietitians
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is building support for an idea or cause, with the aim of influencing an important change in current policy.
What is grassroots activism?
Usually grassroots activism refers to political activity that begins within a community and is started by the general population, as opposed to one that is started and carried forth by a formal political organization.
What is active citizenship?
Active citizenship is when average citizens learn to influence political decision making by choosing their priorities, creating a plan, actively working to take action and make their voices heard, and achieving their goals through these means.
What are the best ways to start to become an advocate for the dietetics profession?
- Learn as much as you can about the legislative process
- Research who the people are in your local and state legislature, and look into what issues are most important to them
- Register to vote, if you have not already done so, and exercise this important right by voting
- Share any findings of pertinent research that you complete with community leaders and legislators
- Write letters and e-mails or make phone calls to elected officials, and encourage others to do the same
- Join an existing local interest group that works for political causes that you believe in, or start your own group
- Attend local political meetings that are open to the public
- Consider running for an elected position for an association
- Stay current on political news, and enter into discussions with others who also do
- Write a letter to the editor
- Recruit others to work with you to build a coalition working toward common goals, considering other:
- Professional health associations
- Patient advocacy groups
- Social service organizations
- Neighborhood groups
- Consumer advocacy groups
- Ask questions of electoral candidates:
- What do they plan to do about a problem?
- How will they allocate funding to help the problem?
- How will they help lessen health disparity between population groups?
- Know your facts:
- Study the subject that you are supporting
- Stay informed of new research, statistics, etc
- Always deal with legislators and other people in positions of influence in a professional and honest manner
- Keep informational handouts or brochures with you, because you never know when you will meet someone who could help to further your cause
References and recommended readings
American Public Health Association: Advocacy & policy. Available at: http://www.apha.org/advocacy. Accessed April 11, 2012.
Boyle MA. The art and science of policy making. In: Community Nutrition in Action: An Entrepreneurial Approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning; 2003.
California State University, Fullerton. What is advocacy? Available at: http://www.fullerton.edu/advocacy/whatisadv.htm. Accessed April 11, 2012.
Patient Advocate Foundation. Solving insurance and healthcare access problems. Available at: http://www.patientadvocate.org. Accessed April 11, 2012.
World Advocacy. The world’s premier list of advocacy groups. Available at:
http://www.worldadvocacy.com. Accessed April 11, 2012.
Review Date 4/12