Congressional Visits

November 2015: PA educators and students visit Capitol Hill as part of a special Hill Day during the Education Forum. (Photo credit: Kate Patterson/PAEA)

Your representatives work for you, and they care about what you think. A 2011 survey asked congressional staff to rank the most important aspect of their jobs — 95% said staying in touch with their constituents. If there’s a bill that you have an opinion about, present your point of view. Otherwise, the meeting is an excellent opportunity to lay a foundation, such as educating them about what PAs do and why they’re important.

When asked on a survey what most influences a member of Congress’ pending decision, congressional staff cited constituent visits. In the past, our visits have yielded member requests on behalf of PA education and visits by congressmen to local PA programs. Though it is sometimes difficult to quantify the results, building relationships is essential to reaching our long-term goals.

Quick Tips to Remember for Your Meeting

  • Security: Be on time! Be sure to arrive 20-30 minutes prior to your appointment to allow sufficient time to pass through security and find your way to the location for your meeting. During peak periods, security lines may continue out of the building , and it may take 5-10 minutes to clear security. Please be prepared to remove your coat, belt, watch, and shoes if required. You must also empty your pockets of any change.
  • Office location: There are wall maps located throughout the Capitol complex. Don’t hesitate to ask someone for directions if you need help.
  • Arriving at the office: Please have business cards available to give to the staff assistant who greets you. Keep introductions to a minimum when you sit down with the staffer. Don’t be alarmed if the staffer you meet with is different from the one you expected – substitutions are frequent due to scheduling demands.
  • Be flexible. The topics you want to discuss may or may not be priority issues to a particular member. Let the staffer’s interests guide the conversation. Staffers have varying levels of knowledge about PAs and how they fit in as primary care clinicians, so you may be able to educate them.
  • Show them the data. Staffers are hungry for research.
  • Bring concrete suggestions.
  • Don’t be intimidated. You are a constituent and your member of Congress wants to know what your concerns are. Constituent visits to the Hill are typically scheduled for 10-15 minutes. Although this may not be enough time to cover everything you would like to discuss, remember that you are building a relationship with your member’s staff, and you will have other opportunities to visit and contact them in the future. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you can provide the answer in a follow-up email.
  • Be sure to visit all of your representatives, regardless of their party affiliation. Your representatives are interested in hearing from you and knowing your views.
  • It’s your visit. This is your time to share your knowledge as a PA educator. PAEA’s director of government relations is there to support you and provide follow-up, but is not a constituent. It’s your job to deliver the message.
  • Remember to leave any materials you brought for the staffer.
  • Don’t forget to send a thank you note or email after your meeting. Be sure to follow up with any information you have promised.
  • Let the PAEA director of Government Relations know if there is any follow-up for Government Relations, Research, or any other PAEA department.