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Orthopaedic Residents Advocate on Capitol Hill

July 10, 2019

TOA takes three orthopaedic residents to Washington, DC every June to visit with lawmakers about musculoskeletal issues that affect Texas patients. TOA’s goal is to introduce advocacy issues to residents at an early age.

Jordan Handcox, MD of San Antonio, Dylan Homen, MD of Lubbock and Max Danilevich, MD of Galveston were the three residents who joined TOA on Capitol Hill in June 2019. TOA interviewed Drs. Handcox and Homen about their Capitol Hill experience.

Jordan Handox, MD visiting the Texas Congressional Delegation with San Antonio orthopaedic surgeons.

TOA:  What did you think about educating lawmakers on Capitol Hill about musculoskeletal issues?  

Jordan Handcox: It was my first time engaging in advocacy efforts in DC, and I found our time there incredibly exciting and inspiring! Even though we were fairly focused on one or two narrow pieces of legislation, it really felt important that orthopedic surgeons as a group came together and unified for a common goal. Together, it genuinely seemed that we actually had the ability to move the legislative needle in a better direction for our patients and for the practice of our craft. It showed me that the value of our strength is in our unity of voice and message, and the AAOS National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference visit really made me feel that together, we actually can make some kind of a difference in this ever-changing health care landscape.

Dylan Homen: I thought it was an extremely valuable learning opportunity. I found it to be a unique step in my development as a young surgeon in training. More than just an interesting change of pace from typical clinical duties, this was a highly fulfilling experience and one that I hope to be a part of for years to come.

TOA: Not many residents jump at the opportunity to join TOA in its advocacy work. What sparked your interest?

Jordan Handcox: A physician’s life is relentlessly busy and full of competing interests for the precious commodity of our time. Often, we feel like we don’t have the time, energy or bandwidth for just one more additional thing in our life, and advocacy or legislative work can feel daunting and like something we just don’t have the time to understand and rally behind. The unfortunate result of this is that many of the people making actual health care policy decisions (legislators, lobbyists, administrators) are not the people who are actually on the ground caring for patients or running a practice.

I am a part of TOA because our group gives actual orthopedic surgeons and patients a voice on important health care issues and acts as an important bridge between surgeons/patients and the esoteric world of state health care politics. TOA does a great job of not only educating us on all the important issues, but it provides us with actual actionable things we can do (strategic phone calls, letters to legislatures, fundraising, etc.) to affect decision making in our state.

Dylan Homen: I am completing my training at a time when health care is on the forefront of the minds of United States citizens and a massively important facet of the current political landscape. We in medicine tend to think research activities when describing advancement of the field. This advocacy work, however, presents a different avenue to foster very real change in the field of orthopaedics and medicine in general. As a native-born Texan, the TOA allows me to channel an interest in health care politics, particularly as it pertains to my home state. It’s a rare and invaluable experience.

TOA:  What do you see our role in an advocacy standpoint following your residency?

Jordan Handcox: Right now is a very interesting time of change in health care policy, both locally within the state of Texas and nationally, as well. Because of the ever-shifting landscape of health care law, it can be difficult to keep up with where things are and where they are going. I hope to stay involved with TOA beyond residency and work to help orthopedic surgeons in our state understand the changes coming that will affect our practice in the short and long terms, where and when we should really pay attention and how we can strategically get involved with our limited time. The practice of orthopedic surgical care is constantly changing, and I hope to help local orthopedic surgeons stay involved and stay aware in a meaningful way.

Dylan Homen: I sincerely hope to remain involved with the Texas Orthopaedic Association and other advocacy organizations. My goal is to become increasingly well versed in the processes with each passing year, allowing me to be a more valuable asset to the association. I would like to continue to contribute and help in any way possible and I would strive to encourage the pursuit of similar interests in like-minded colleagues that follow me.