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Who Are We Doing This For?

Nov 07, 2017 1:42 pm

We take many things for granted. I walked 11,151 steps today going from sessions to posters and exhibit halls to learn as much as I can to take back to my clinic so I can help my patients.  My feet were hurting, and my back bothered me as I tried to get comfortable for the next lecture; yet, these minor discomforts are nothing compared to what our patients experience on a daily basis.

In the exhibit hall, I passed by the the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) display. A green bent toothbrush caught my eye: partly because I had forgotten to pack a toothbrush but also because the toothbrushes appeared to be defective (now how am I going to use that?). I asked one of the ACR staff about the toothbrush, and she just beamed as she told me the story. In September 2011, the  ACR launched a public awareness campaign called Simple Tasks™ to raise public awareness about rheumatic diseases. Their tasks (which are not so simple) are to:

  1. Educate lawmakers, administration officials, think tanks and advocacy groups on the importance of rheumatology

  2. Increase the public’s understanding of the work of rheumatologists

  3. Create awareness that support more favorable public policies for researchers, physicians, and patients with rheumatic diseases

All that sounds good to me; it certainly would improve my life and my patients as well. There is still a prevailing public misconception that arthritis is a “minor” disease compared to the big players as cancer and cardiovascular disease. The issue at hand is that if left untreated, inflammatory rheumatic diseases can increase the risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Hence, we need to motivate Congress, use social media, and raise our voices to advocate for our patients and to advance healthcare policies that protect our patients’ ability to access healthcare and therapies as well as promote our position in the field of medicine.

While the ACR meeting may be in November of most years, Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (#RDAM) is in September, but why should we not talk about rheumatic disease every month of the year? Arthritis does not rest and neither should we; so keep in mind, “Who we are doing this for?”

Stop by the ACR booth or go to www.simpletasks.org to start advocating for your patients.

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