Advocacy Day

Participate in Advocacy Day

Thursday, March 7, 2019

AMSA is committed to developing medical-trainee activists that use their voices to challenge the status quo and advocate for policies that provide our patients with better health outcomes. Learn how to make a difference and join us for AMSA’s Advocacy Day on March 7, 2019! Train to meet with legislators and Congressional aides, then visit your elected officials’ offices.

What issues will we be advocating for?

For Advocacy Day 2019, AMSA activists will be heading to Capitol Hill to advocate for policy solutions that will improve the safety of our communities and provide access to affordable care and medications. Participants will have the option to receive training on one of the following issues:*

Gun Violence Prevention

Physicians-in-training are extremely concerned of the alarming rates of gun-related injuries and tragedies in our communities. It is crucial that we implement measures that address this public health crisis. Unfortunately, the lack of appropriated funding for the CDC severely limits our knowledge of evidence-based solutions. We must ensure that the CDC has sufficient funding to further investigate this issue and promote firearm safety.

Medicare for All and Affordable Meds

Access to comprehensive health care is a basic human right; yet, millions of Americans remain uninsured or are left with large bills from excessive health care and drug costs. AMSA has a long history advocating for universal health care and lower drug prices and this year will be no different. We will continue to push our elected officials to put patients before profits—it is time that we offer health care for all!

*Please note that with the new Congress taking office in January, we anticipate movement on all of these issues. The specific legislative priorities will be confirmed in the upcoming weeks.

Meet the Speakers

Aalayah Eastmond

Senior, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Aalayah Eastmond is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14, 2018, she was in one of the classrooms attacked by a gunman who would go on to murder 17 students and staff. In the aftermath, Aalayah has stepped up to speak out about gun violence in America. She has been particularly vocal around the chronic gun violence that affects young African Americans every day in this country, which is particularly important to her because her uncle was shot and killed in Brooklyn 15 years ago. She regularly refers to herself as “a regular BLACK girl,” and has vowed to make a difference with the platform that she’s been given. She has spoken at March for Our Lives, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Kavanaugh hearings, has appeared on a number of news programs including Oprah and BuzzFeed, written for Bustle, and appeared in numerous articles including Elleonline.

Avanthi Jayaweera

Education & Advocacy Fellow, AMSA National

Avanthi Jayaweera is a fourth-year medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. During her undergraduate education at Virginia Tech, she volunteered regularly at a rural free clinic where she witnessed systemic injustice in the health care system and developed her passion for securing patient rights and health care reform.

In medical school, Avanthi served as the local AMSA Chapter Co-President and hosted multiple events including lobby days and advocacy skills training to engage others in activism. Her chapter was recognized nationally for their strong commitment towards building future physician leaders in the community. Avanthi has also worked extensively with AMSA’s AIDS Advocacy Network to mobilize other medical students to advocate for relevant legislation regarding global AIDS, access to affordable medicines, syringe exchange programs, among others.

Currently, Avanthi serves as AMSA’s Education and Advocacy Fellow where she develops educational programming and advocacy initiatives to engage medical trainees in broader efforts to eliminate health disparities and inequities. She is eager to continue to fight for social justice.

Richard Bruno, MD, MPH

Family Physician

Dr. Richard Bruno is a former co-chair of AMSA’s Health Care for All campaign, and helped organize AMSA’s Advocacy Day in 2011. He has served on the boards of the American Academy of Family Physicians, National Physicians Alliance, Physicians for a National Health Program, American Association of Public Health Physicians, MedChi—the Maryland state medical society, Sugar Free Kids Maryland, and Friends of Hampden School #55.

Dr. Bruno has led workshops, conferences, rallies, and actions for health justice. His main clinical focuses are on the pair of pandemics: obesity and opioids, with involvement in community public health interventions and policies, including sugary drink interventions at local corner stores and naloxone trainings on needle-exchange vans. He and his wife of twelve years have two children and love hiking, biking, and cooking together.

Dr. Bruno attained a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, doctorate of medicine from Oregon Health and Science University, and a master of public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He graduated from the combined Family and Preventive Medicine residency program at MedStar Franklin Square and Johns Hopkins. He currently practices family medicine at a federally qualified health center in Baltimore, Maryland, where he is serving his National Health Service Corps commitment.

Justin Mendoza, MPH

State Partnerships Manager, Families USA

Justin Mendoza is the State Partnerships Manager at Families USA. In this role he works to support state consumer advocates by building cross-state collaborations through Families USA’s State Innovation and Learning Collaborative, advising on campaign strategy development and coalition building, and providing technical assistance on state legislation. Justin also works on Families USA’s drug pricing projects, where he provides strategic guidance and expertise on prescription drug pricing policy, and co-coordinates a monthly organizing table connecting organizations working to mobilize for lower drug prices. In addition to his work at Families USA, Justin’s current activities include serving on the board of directors of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, a nonprofit student-driven organization working on access to medicines.

Before joining Families USA, Justin worked as the organizer for Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, where he built the drug prices organizing table, managed a social media presence, and created digital and field campaign strategies. He also spearheaded the Affordable Medicines Now conference held in Washington, D.C. in June 2018, which was a first-of-its kind convening with grassroots advocates, policy experts, and lawmakers dedicated to work toward making medicines affordable for all.

Prior to Public Citizen, Justin worked at Partners In Health, a global health nonprofit with offices in Boston, MA, on the PIH Engage team. There he worked to build a grassroots-based volunteer program which raised nearly $500,000 over his tenure and mobilized more than 4,000 advocates in grassroots advocacy efforts aimed at building sustainable global health financing.

Justin holds an MPH, with a certificate in regulatory affairs from Yale University and a BS in biomedical science and neuroscience from Central Michigan University.

What can I expect during Advocacy Day?

The schedule for the day is busy and we aim to prepare you as much as possible. Morning training will be conducted at the AMSA Convention Hotel, the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City. Attendees will depart for Capitol Hill just before lunch in order to eat on their own and arrive at their legislative appointments on time. A limited number of metro cards with preloaded fare will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. You will conduct afternoon visits to the offices of your elected officials after morning training. Based on the information you provide during registration, AMSA will schedule a visit with legislators and/or their staffers for your team on Thursday afternoon, March 7. This appointment information will be provided to you. AMSA will provide issue background information, talking points, and short fact page leave behinds–all of which will be available prior to your arrival to Capitol Hill. You are expected to attend all of your afternoon scheduled appointments with elected officials’ offices, and please arrive on time to be respectful of Congressional staff calendars. Any schedule changes should be communicated immediately and directly to AMSA Education and Advocacy Fellow at

Will there be training?

AMSA understands for many medical trainees that our Advocacy Day will be your first experience meeting with an elected official’s office. We will have online learning resources to help you prepare, including basic information and background on the bill we will be advocating for. The morning of Advocacy Day is all dedicated to providing in-person training geared toward medical trainees to help prepare you as best we can. We have AMSA leaders who are experienced and ready to help you learn this important skill for physicians. Afternoon appointments with your elected officials’ offices will be set up for you.

How do I register?

You will register for Advocacy Day as a part of your Convention registration.

Questions? Please contact AMSA’s Education & Advocacy Fellow at with further questions or for more information.