Long Island Bridge closure

Maybe some of you have heard about the abrupt closure of the Long Island Bridge this week. Long Island is home to some important services for marginalized and vulnerable populations, including a homeless shelter and a detox and methadone treatment facility. The below article describes how staff at Andrew House had 2 hours notice to find new placements for 60 detoxing patients before the bridge closed. The people who use the services located on Long Island will now need to seek help elsewhere, and Boston’s substance abuse treatment facilities are already overcrowded.



Please write or call the Mayor’s office and/or your City Councilor to urge them to find a solution quickly! Below is a sample script you could use, but feel free to come up with your own!


“Dear Mayor Walsh/City Councilor ______,

My name is __________ and I am a medical/dental/public health/law/social work student here in Boston. I believe that all Boston residents deserve access to services that will promote their health and prolong their life, which is why I was dismayed to hear that the abrupt closure of the Long Island Bridge disrupted access to vital services for individuals experiencing homeless and/or substance dependency here in Boston. More people die each year in MA from accidental opiate overdose than from motor vehicle accidents (MA Department of Public Health, 2012), and enrollment in a methadone treatment program has been demonstrated to significantly decrease risk of death from an overdose. Given the increasing rates of death from opiate overdoses here in Boston, we should be expanding access to these services, not eliminating it. I therefore urge you and the City Council to work to find a solution to the Long Island Bridge closure that promotes public safety AND preserves access to needed services.


Yours sincerely,”


1) Go to cityofboston.gov

2) click the “government” tab on the right top of the screen

3) Follow links to either Mayor’s Office or City Council on the left (then click on your city councilor, or the link to find your city councilor if you don’t know which is yours!)

4) Find and click the “contact” link

5) copy and paste the text you want to send, or just type it directly

6) I think it’s good to include “Boston, MA” in your signature so they know you live here, and add in some language about being one of their constituents

7) Click send!

This will take you less than 5 minutes! Promise!



Boston Student Health Activist Community Summit

Boston Student Health Activist Community Summit

Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 9:30am-4:00pm

RSVP: Please click here to register for the summit (FREE)

What: Join Boston Student Health Activist Community (BSHAC) for a gathering of students of the health professions, with the shared aim of addressing issues of social justice, human rights, and public health.

It will be an amazing day of talks from physicians and other professionals engaged in public health activism and community organizing, as well as small-group skill building sessions (see schedule below). It is also a great opportunity to network and get involved in ongoing community outreach!

Breakfast and lunch will be served!

Where: Boston University School of Medicine, Room L-112, 72 E Concord St, Boston, MA

When: Saturday, October 4, 2014, 9:30am-4:00pm

Who: Co-sponsored by BU Advocacy Training Program, Physicians For Human Rights, Physicians For A National Health Program, and Harvard American Medical Student Association.


RSVP: Please click here to register for the summit (FREE)


If you have any questions please contact Jawad Husain (jawadh@bu.edu)

*Note: We understand the date of the summit coincides with Yom Kippur, and sincerely apologize to anyone who is unable to make it due to religious obligations. Unfortunately, we did not realize this scheduling conflict until after most of the plans were already finalized.

BSHAC Summit Schedule:
October 4, 2014

9:30 - Breakfast

10:00 - Advocacy 101 – Paul Davis (HealthGAP, ACT UP)

11:00 - Physician Advocacy – Megan Sandel, MD, MPH (Children’s Health Watch, National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership)

12:00 - Single Payer Health Policy – David Himmelstein, MD, MPH (Founder of Physicians for a National Health Program)

12:50 - Lunch

1:35 - Breakout Session Introductions

1:45 - Breakout Session 1 – Community Organizations

  • Harm Reduction – Sarah Mackin (AHOPE Needle Exchange)
  • Climate/Environmental Health – Wendy Ring, MD, MPH (Physicians for Social Responsibility, Climate 911)
  • Immigrant Health – Julia Koehler, MD (Children’s Hospital Boston, American Pediatric Association)
  • Reproductive Justice – Chelsea Norman (NARAL)

2:30 - Breakout Session 2 – Skill Building

  • Media Outreach – Marjorie Lacombe
  • Climate Change Speaker Training – Wendy Ring, MD, MPH
  • Legislative Advocacy – Geoffrey Wilkinson
  • One-on-One Conversations – Molly Zielenbach
  • Artistic Activism – Alice Rothchild, MD

3:15 - Closing Speech – Daniel Dworkis, MD, Ph.D (Emergency Medicine Resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, founder of BU Advocacy Training Program)

4:00-6:00 - After party at JJ Foley’s (optional)

RSVP: Please click here to register for the summit (FREE)



Advocacy Ground Rounds: Combating Tropical Diseases – Thursday, 9/25 @ 12pm

The BU Advocacy Training Program will be hosting this year’s first Advocacy Ground Rounds this Thursday!


The details of the event are the following:

Title: Innovations in Combating Tropical Diseases

Speaker: Kevin Outterson, JD, LL.M.

Description: Kevin Outterson, a Professor of Health and Disability Law at BU, will be speaking about new developments and innovations in combating tropical diseases. Professor Outterson co-directs the BU Health Law Program, and serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Law, Medicine &Ethics. His research focuses on the organization and finance of the health sector. Areas of specialization include global pharmaceutical markets, particularly antibiotics and other antimicrobials that can degrade in usefulness over time.

When: Thursday, September 25th @ 12:00-1:00pm

Where: L212


Lunch will be provided!


Please do not hesitate to contact us at buatp@bu.edu if you have any questions!


Student Organization Fair – Tuesday, August 12th, @2:45pm

Meet us at the Student Organization Fair for the Class of 2018!!! It will be held on Tuesday, August 12, at 2:45 pm in the Hiebert Lounge.


We will be talking about what we do as an organization, our plans for this year and how you can be involved throughout your medical school years.

See you there!

BUATP Awarded Best Student/Resident Abstract

Mobile 401

This year’s ATP abstract submission to John McCahan Education Day has been selected as the winner for Best Student/Resident Abstract! Nicole Economou and Lou Yu discussed the assessment of structured advocacy training integrated into the third year ob/gyn clerkship. Congratulations Nicole and Lou for this wonderful accomplishment, and many thanks to Dr. Chris Curry and Dr. Erica Holland, as well as the BMC Ob/gyn department for all of the support and hard work on this project. We hope that this success helps fuel the incorporation of formal advocacy training into all required 3rd and 4th year BUSM clerkships.

Roundtable on Issues Facing LGBTQ Prisoners Ft. Jason Lydon, Friday April 18th @ 12:15-1:30pm

Want to learn more about what’s going on with prisoners’ health right here in Boston?

Want to know how you can help?

Come join Physicians for Human Rights, buATP and BUMC Pride as we welcome Jason Lydon, the founder of Black and Pink.

Jason will give an introduction to current LGBTQ prisoner issues, prisoner organizing models and the role of medical professionals within the framework of abolition.

Black and Pink is a national organization that started here in Boston to support LGBTQ people currently residing in the prison system. So come discuss, ask questions, eat pizza and engage!

Q & A will follow a brief lecture, and pizza will be provided.

Friday April 18th, 2014

BUSM Room L-109


Social Determinants of Health Grand Rounds –Friday, March 21

Please join us and the Department of General Internal Medicine:

“Advocacy from the Front Lines of Medicine”

Presented by:

Jessie Gaeta, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Medicine, BUSM

Department of General Internal Medicine, BMC

Medical director of Barbara McInnis House

Friday, March 21, 2014

12:00 PM

BU School of Medicine Building, Keefer Auditorium

Hope to see you there!

* BMC’s Social Determinants of Health Grand Rounds is a new series of lectures that address the social, economic and environmental determinants of our patients’ health. By inviting experts in patient advocacy and health care policy to share their research and experience, they aim to foster a dialogue across departments and professions about the social context of our health care system.

Recap: February Grand Rounds: “Can Housing Act as a Vaccine?”

Our first buATP Advocacy Grand Rounds of the year took place on February 5th @ 11:30-12:30pm (in spite of the snow storm!) The discussion, titled “Can Housing Act as a Vaccine?”, was lead by Dr. Sandel, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the BU Schools of Medicine and Public Health. After sharing how she became passionate about housing advocacy, Dr. Sandel described how a stable, decent and affordable home can act as a vaccine to keep kids and adults healthy now and in the future. Dr. Sandel also talked about the current national homeless crisis and deliberately left ample time for student questions to allow for an interactive discussion.

**Our next Grand Rounds will be on Monday, March 31st @ 4pm, so be on the lookout for these!**

SNAP Challenge -buATP in the News!

Our very own second year ATP leader, Fabian Chang was recently involved in organizing a “SNAP Challenge,” during which students were challenged to restrict their food budgets to just $30 per week, the amount that individuals receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, are allotted. This challenge, along with comments from Fabian and Dr. Megan Sandel, was recently featured in BU Today. You can read more about the SNAP Challenge here.

Recap: December Advocacy Panel: From medical student to physician advocate

Our end-of-the-year advocacy panel was a success! On Monday, December 2nd, Dr. Curry moderated an advocacy panel of fellow physician advocates Dr. Gaeta, Dr. Rattan, and Dr. Walley. All three shared their thoughts about what advocacy means to them, about what doing advocacy means in their daily practice and life, and about how they got to the point they are at today as it relates to advocacy. They also shared their thoughts about how one can balance life, work, and advocacy.

On advocacy

Advocacy is a broad term that may mean different things to different people but, in the end, as medical students and physicians, we are intimately bound to advocate for our individual patients because diseases do not occur in a vacuum, but rather in intricate sociocultural contexts. Advocacy, thus, starts in the clinic by being aware of and identifying the non-biological determinants of health, and acting upon these determinants –this may be done at the patient level, or at the broader local, national, or international levels.

 On the importance of picking our battles if we aim to effect broader change

The world is full of problems that we as individuals will never be able to solve despite all of our good intentions and frustrations about these problems. But the fact that we fundamentally cannot save the world does not mean that we should give up changing anything. Where, then, should we start? To find our way as an advocate, the most important thing is for us to pick our battles. How? By finding an issue that makes us feel uncomfortable, an issue that we cannot rationalize, an issue that has a special meaning to us.

On how advocacy entails cooperation

Once one has identified his/her issue, one needs to start taking action. Because we all have limited knowledge, skills, and time taking action may seem overwhelming at first. Where should we start?! As was mentioned during the panel, changes are not effected by individuals, but rather by groups of individuals with different, complementary skills who work together towards a common goal. What does this mean? It means that, to be successful advocates, we should work hand in hand with people from other backgrounds who have the same vision as us, and skills complementary to ours.

On how to balance work, advocacy, and personal life

Medical students and physicians certainly do not have much free time on their hands, and thus the prospect of adding an advocacy piece to their life outside of school/their practice can seem daunting. Is there a solution to this? The idea that was mentioned in the panel is that life is a dynamic balance, and that being a physician advocate is just one of the many items that add to the balance. While the balance will sometimes tilt towards the “work + advocacy” side, it will tilt towards the “personal life” side at other times. Finding our most fulfilling dynamic is then what will allow us to find our ultimate balance between work, advocacy, and personal life.

On our privileged position as medical students and physicians

Medical students and physicians have a privileged position to effect change at the societal level because they have access to institutions, lawmakers, and money –among other resources, and simply by virtue of their position in the society. Realizing the unique potential that we have to effect change and taking advantage of this privileged position is key to our success as advocates.

A take-home message for medical students?

The “but… we’re only med students” reasoning that some of us have internalized and that may keep us from undertaking bold advocacy endeavors has no rational grounds: advocacy is intrinsically linked to our career path, and BUSM is full of opportunities to start advocating… now!

**Do not hesitate to email us at buatp@bu.edu if you have any question, or if you would like to do advocacy but don’t know where to start!**

Juliette Flam, BUSM, buATP