Critical Need for Resident Involvement in Legislative Advocacy

by Rajendra Sawh-Martinez, MDa, Nirav B. Patel, MD, MS, JDb, Michael G. Galvez, MDc, Anup Patel, MD, MBAd, Russell E. Kling, MDe Debra J. Johnson, MDf

A resident’s life is hectic and stressful. Despite work hour regulations, there is inherent stress as plastic surgery trainees strive to develop their clinical acumen, surgical skills, engage in research, and study for the in-service exam.  They must also be prepared for daily cases and weekly conferences, and attempt to maintain a semblance of balance outside the hospital.  Often lost in their training experience is an awareness of the critical aspects of state and national legislative issues affecting medicine. This unfortunately can translate into a lack of participation in advocacy during their career, as these busy trainees become busy board-certified plastic surgeons.

Our national governing body, the ASPS, understands the pressures faced by its membership, and offers several easy, low-stress and potentially automated ways for residents to become involved and add their voice to the critical issues that will shape the future of Plastic Surgery in the United States.

The ASPS Legislative Advocacy Committee works with both national and state legislators to improve health care delivery for plastic surgery patients.  Committee members meet with representatives from both sides of the aisle to educate them on the panoply of issues that directly affect plastic surgery. Critical to these efforts is the passionate engagement of ASPS members and their financial support to PlastyPAC.

Importantly, Plastic Surgery residency programs should encourage and support interested residents. Funding sources such as the John Troxel Legislative Fellowship developed by the Stanford Plastic Surgery Alumni program (Zedplast) may serve as a model for supporting resident advocacy leaders.

As residents, early involvement in advocacy to support these efforts is an essential component of our professional responsibility. There are several easy steps that every resident can take to fulfill this responsibility:

  1. Join ASPS as a resident member.  It’s FREE!

    Consider joining the Residents and Fellows Forum ($100) with multiple additional benefits, including free subscription to PRS and free registration to ASPS The Meeting. (

  2. Contribute to PlastyPAC for bipartisan support of plastic surgery-related legislation.Any amount, even $5, shows your sponsorship and initiates life-long engagement. (


  3. Apply to join a committee to represent your local plastic surgery program within your school of medicine or hospital system.
  4. Find out how you can participate with your local, state, and regional plastic surgery and medial societies
  5. Apply to join an ASPS committee to help shape and influence the future of your specialty by sharing your talents and opinions. Residents can participate in almost every committee. (

In fulfilling these steps, plastic surgery residents can begin the process of life-long involvement with the organization that speaks as one voice on behalf of plastic surgeons and our patients.

Author Attributions:

 a: Yale University School of Medicine

Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Resident Member of the Legislative Advocacy Committee

b: University of California, Davis Medical Center

Division of Plastic Surgery

Resident Member of the Legislative Advocacy Committee

c: Stanford University School of Medicine

Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

John Troxel Legislative Fellow

d: New York University

Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery

Former Resident Member of the Legislative Advocacy Committee

e: University of Pittsburgh

Department of Plastic Surgery

Resident Member of the Legislative Advocacy Committee

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