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AUA AWARD WINNERS Pediatric Urology Advocacy: Reflecting on the AUA Gallagher Health Policy Scholar Award

By: Beth Andersen, MD, FAAP, University of Washington, Seattle, University of Tennessee, Knoxville | Posted on: 18 Mar 2024

I am honored to be selected as the AUA Gallagher Health Policy Scholar for 2024. I am grateful for the learning opportunities it will provide and for the connections that I will make throughout the year. These will help me achieve my advocacy goals. This award is not about my own personal achievement; it symbolizes our collective dedication as urologists to improving patient health through patient care and policy advocacy. I believe that we have the shared responsibility to champion policies that enhance care for all patients, not just for the ones we care for directly. I look forward to the year ahead.

The award also gains significance from the inspiration derived from dedicated urologists I’ve worked with, whose efforts in patient advocacy and addressing health care challenges have shaped my career. It’s not only a recognition of individual endeavors, but also a reflection of the AUA’s support of the impact health care professionals can have on policy improvements that enhance the ability to care for patients and improve patient outcomes.

In my pediatric urology practice, regional disparities in care availability for children, particularly in underserved areas, have been evident. Focusing on early intervention’s importance to mitigate long-term health risks, such as the link between undescended testicles and testicular cancer, is a priority for me. By promoting awareness, ensuring access, and advocating timely treatment for cryptorchidism, it is possible to significantly impact young patients’ lives and reduce morbidity. The norm should be early referral for all infants and children for orchiopexy when clinically indicated regardless of social determinants of health. Experiences with patients and their families, alongside colleagues, emphasize the urgency of advocating for policies that bridge health care access gaps.

The Gallagher Health Policy Scholar program will provide a platform to amplify my advocacy efforts, and to contribute to shaping policies prioritizing the health of patients. This program uniquely offers mentorship and education for a deeper understanding of health policy’s intersection with issues that affect patient care. I see the journey ahead as a chance to learn from esteemed mentors and engage with a community passionate about advocating for positive change in health care policies. It promises educational opportunities that will allow me to identify new avenues for advocacy, keeping abreast of dynamic health care policy changes affecting both physicians and those we serve.

In summary, the Gallagher Health Policy Award profoundly acknowledges the vital role of advocacy in urology. It provides an opportunity to actively engage in shaping policies to improve health care and improve equitable care access. I am grateful to colleagues, mentors, and the AUA for this honor, and excited about future opportunities to impact pediatric patients’ health through effective health policy advocacy.