Members of Congress hold town hall meetings or community forums from time to time – especially during August Recess – to meet with their constituents and learn about issues that are important to them.
Here are some tips for PAs attending these gatherings:
Before the Meeting
Find out if and when the legislator will be holding community forums:
- Call the district office and inquire. Find phone numbers on AAPA's Advocacy Action Center.
- Visit the legislator's Web page. Often, town hall meetings are publicized online.
- Sign up to receive legislators' email updates; meetings are often announced via email.
- AAPA communicates directly with PAs throughout the month of August each year about town hall meetings as we learn of them. Keep an eye on your email.
- If you don't know what your legislator looks like, view his or her picture online so you are can recognize him or her.
During the Meeting
- Wear business-casual attire, or wear something that identifies you as a PA, such as a button from AAPA or your chapter, your white coat or other identifying article of clothing.
- Arrive early so you can get a seat at the front where you are more likely to be called upon during the question and answer portion of the meeting. Also, it gives you opportunity to introduce yourself to staff if they are early, too.
- Know what your "ask" will be, and have it ready. You can write it down on a note card if you get nervous speaking in public.
- Have a back-up question ready if someone else asks your question or makes your point for you.
- Don't be afraid to get your hand up early in the discussion. Be sure to speak clearly and loudly, and say it with a smile.
- Introduce yourself as a physician assistant. Tell the legislator and/or staff where you work, what you do, the kinds of patients you treat and what you contribute to the community.
- Thank the legislator after asking your question. Offer to be a resource for additional information on healthcare in your community.
- Listen to the legislator's answer. Does he or she make a commitment of support? Sound like he or she needs follow-up with additional information? Also, listen for the names of staff as they are introduced.
After the Meeting
- Try to approach the legislator immediately after the meeting and give a final quick "thank you.” Have your business card and any fact sheets or issue briefs you wish to leave behind ready.
- Send the staff an email or written note thanking them for their time, reminding them of your comments at the forum, and restate your offer to be a healthcare resource.