The Advocacy Portfolio: A Standardized Tool for Documenting Physician Advocacy

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Abstract

Recent changes in health care delivery systems and in medical training have primed academia for a paradigm shift, with strengthened support for an expanded definition of scholarship. Physicians who consider advocacy to be relevant to their scholarly endeavors need a standardized format to display activities and measure the value of health outcomes to which their work can be attributed. Similar to the Educator Portfolio, the authors here propose the Advocacy Portfolio (AP) to document a scholarly approach to advocacy.

Despite common challenges faced in the arguments for both education and advocacy to be viewed as scholarship, the authors highlight inherent differences between the two fields. On the basis of prior literature, the authors propose a broad yet comprehensive set of domains to categorize advocacy activities, including advocacy engagement, knowledge dissemination, community outreach, advocacy teaching/mentoring, and advocacy leadership/administration. Documenting quality, quantity, and a scholarly approach to advocacy within each domain is the first of many steps to establish congruence between advocacy and scholarship for physicians using the AP format.

This standardized format can be applied in a variety of settings, from medical training to academic promotion. Such documentation will encourage institutional buy-in by aligning measured outcomes with institutional missions. The AP will also provide physician–advocates with a method to display the impact of advocacy projects on health outcomes for patients and populations. Future challenges to broad application include establishing institutional support and developing consensus regarding criteria by which to evaluate the contributions of advocacy activities to scholarship.

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