Written by Cheryl Bettigole, MD, MPH, NPA Immediate Past-President. Dr. Bettigole presented her hands-on workshop, “Physician Advocacy: A Storytelling Workshop,” at the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) 2014 Annual Convention in New Orleans.


Thanks to AMSA’s leadership for the opportunity to talk with students at the annual AMSA conference about the power of storytelling for advocacy. It was inspiring to hear from such smart, committed, compassionate students and particularly to learn from the powerful stories they tell about what happens when patients fall through the cracks of our healthcare system.

Stories move us to action, they remind us of why we became physicians and of how far we still have to go to create a system that truly is the best in the world. But in their telling, they also reveal much about the story teller, and I feel so much more confident in the future of America’s doctors after hearing these students tell their stories.

Today, I had the privilege of hearing Congressman Elijah Cummings speak about the importance of community health centers as our safety net, and about what he has learned living in Baltimore’s inner city. He quoted a elderly friend and neighbor who told him to fix whatever he could fix, but that if he could do nothing else, to bear witness.

In telling their stories, these students learned to raise their voices to bear witness to the injustice and waste that remain rife in our healthcare system. They will lead us forward.