No Time for Silence: An Urgent Need for Political Activism Among the Medical Community

Acad Med. 2017 Sep;92(9):1231-1233. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001724.


Despite being a major stakeholder in the U.S. health care system, the medical community has remained relatively mute in the debate over the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the ACA were repealed, tens of millions of Americans would be in danger of losing their insurance, resulting in a significant increase in mortality. Because misinformation about the ACA is rampant, it is imperative that health care providers explain to the public what exactly the ACA is and how repeal will affect patients. Traditionally, many in the medical community have abstained from political advocacy for multiple reasons, including compromising the doctor-patient relationship, financial incentives, lack of experience with activism due to an absence of training in that area, and fear of political retaliation. Encouragingly, there are indications that the medical community is beginning to become more vocal. Medical students are one example, having formed a grassroots response to repeal. However, students need more guidance and support from experienced mentors to most effectively serve as patient advocates. This is no time for silence: On this life-or-death issue, the medical community cannot afford to remain mute.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Patient Advocacy*
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Politics*
  • United States