First Tuesdays at the Capitol: A Personal Profile
By Jenny Shepherd, TMAA VP of Political and Legislative Affairs
Voting is over. Our officials are ensconced at the Capitol. And we have fewer than 120 days and counting to score wins for medicine. Many people in Texas think they have done their job. They went to the polls, and they voted for the candidate of their choice. And now they sit back and hope for the best. I voted in November, too, but I like to think differently. I like to think that we vote for what’s important to us every single day with our actions, our time, our voice.
Our actions as an Alliance speak volumes. We have a goal to let our legislators know we are ever-present by telling specifically what we, as the Family of Medicine, are doing in their districts. Did you know that last year alone, we fit – free of charge – 3,500 helmets in 14 counties to needy children, thus reducing the risk of head injuries? Our Be Wise – Immunize events promoted the importance of being vaccinated and administered almost 20,000 shots.
In Bexar County, donations of educational books were made to University Hospital so that low-income graduates of the Premature Infant Program could have a better start to life. In Lubbock, Alliance members are raising funds for the One Voice home, a recovery center for sexual trafficking victims, and have placed information in colleges and public places to reach victims. Nueces County sponsored fundraisers for medicine-friendly candidates, while Tarrant County’s Shower of Love provided newborn supplies for families in need. Book donations to Little Libraries, thousands of dollars raised for allied health scholarships ... the list of what we are doing in our communities across the state goes on and on.
As you can see, in our Alliance partnership with our elected officials, we are not just what I would call takers, only showing up wanting them to vote on “our side” on any particular issue. We are givers, selflessly offering our time, our efforts, and our money to make sure the communities where we live and work, and that they represent, get the best of what the medical community has to offer. And in return, we ask them to seek the guidance of TMA and TEXPAC when it comes to voting for the best interest of good medicine for all Texans.
We vote with our voice, too. Individual county alliances are gearing up to walk alongside the physicians from our communities at First Tuesdays. We are educated on the issues and are thinking about how they affect our lives personally. None of us wants our children in school with unvaccinated children, none of us wants to see our spouse burdened with unnecessary paperwork, none of us wants to see our spouse’s practice struggle or people not get the health care they need because the insurance corridors are narrow and health plan payment is dismal. First Tuesdays, postcards, calls, and emails from Alliance members all serve to make sure the voice of medicine is heard – loud and clear.
There is immense power when a group of people comes together to work for a common goal. We are proud to be part of the team. We are proud to work for medicine. And we are proud to make it part of our mission to show that medicine votes ... not only at the ballot box, but also in our community, and with our actions and our voices. Our Family of Medicine – TMA, TMAA and TEXPAC – are absolutely the right people for our legislators to partner with for a healthier Texas.
We look forward to seeing you at the Capitol on March 5, April 2, and May 7 to spread the message of medicine at First Tuesdays at the Capitol.
Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.