"You cannot ignore politics, or if you do, you do so at your peril," declared Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy annual meeting last month in Atlanta, Ga. To end the session, a short video was shown that offered tips for making a visit to a member of Congress a success. These tips include planning the visit carefully, making an appointment, being prompt and patient, being prepared, being political, and being responsive.
As Rep. Charlie Norwood (R, Ga.) declared at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy annual meeting last month in Atlanta, "You cannot ignore politics, or if you do, you do so at your peril. Government on the state and federal levels has, does, and always will affect your profession. You cannot sit back and hope that others will 'do the right thing,' because whatever you feel is best for pharmacy, I guarantee you, someone out there feels differently. And if they are working hard enough in Washington, they'll win."
If you want to affect what is going on in Washington, you must develop a relationship with a member of Congress, Norwood advised. "And I do not mean dropping in every two years to ask how the weather is. You have to be around. The people I am closest to are those I knew prior to being elected to Congress," he explained. "I promise you that there are phone calls that I return in 10 minutes, those I return in an hour, and those I return in one day."
If you did not know your members of Congress prior to their being elected, you can still get to know them, said Norwood. The best time to do that is during the campaign season, when they are in their home state or district more frequently, he recommended.
To end the session, a short video was shown that offered tips for making a visit to a member of Congress a success. These tips include planning the visit carefully, making an appointment, being prompt and patient, being prepared, being political, and being responsive.
Those who want to visit a member of Congress should be clear about what they want to achieve, and determine beforehand with whom they should meet to achieve their goals. To meet with a member of Congress, it is necessary to contact the appointment secretary/scheduler, and explain the purpose of the visit and on whose behalf the visit is being made.
When visiting the Hill, it is important to be on time and patient. It is not uncommon for a member of Congress to be late or for a meeting to be interrupted. If an interruption does occur, perhaps the meeting can be continued with Congressional staff.
It is helpful to bring along information and supporting materials that clearly demonstrate the impact or benefits of a particular issue or piece of legislation. It is also important to demonstrate the connection between the issue or legislation and the interests of the member's constituency, if possible.
The member of Congress may ask questions, so being prepared to answer any queries or provide additional information is recommended. It is a good idea to follow up with a thank-you letter that outlines the points raised during the meeting and provides any additional information requested.
Charlotte LoBuono. Congressman urges pharmacists to get involved politically. Drug Topics Dec. 8, 2003;147:84.