My day at First Tuesday

This past Tuesday I traded off a shift, drove to Austin to participate in my first First Tuesday, a Texas Medicine ongoing effort to have Texas docs (and their TMA Affiliate spouses)  meet Texas Legislators.

Short version: I had fun, there were a lot of members there (I think they said 240, which is the biggest number yet), Texas Legislators are smart and personable, and I may do it again.

We met at TMA HQ, 3 blocks from the State Capitol, at a bright 7AM.  There were welcoming addresses from the TMA Affiliate President (from Fort Worth), the TMA President (from Bryan), and then a presentation from the real lobbyists about the major issues we were being asked to present to the legislators.  Frankly, all this was news to me, so it was interesting and educational.

We had an amusing and excellent ‘How to be a Lobbyist’ presentation, then divided into groups to go politic.  I went with 1/2 of my county group, walked over, and met with a Senator’s legislative assistant, and 4 representatives.  Even the one who said he was going to vote against us on one issue was very pleasant about it, and the much more experienced politickers said politely we’d agree to disagree.

Then we went to the House Chamber, to be recognized by the House. Unfortunately, after about an hour and ten minutes we realized it wasn’t going to happen (the first hour of the session is dedicated to just such announcements).  So, off the the Senate chamber, where we barely got in time, then were recognized by Senator Nelson, then had a big group picture, and it’s lunch time.

I was, by then, exhausted.  I’d been on a string of nights, getting up at 0530 was the equivalent of time travel for me, so I got the lovely wife from the hotel, and napped on the ride home.

It amazes me that there were that many Texas docs from all over the State who took off  at least a day to present the agenda of Texas Medicine, and Texas Patients.  Good for them!


  1. Sounds fun! Congrats. You ever go to the ACEP leadership and advocacy conference in DC? Pretty similar, on a larger scale.



  2. I almost went, and if I had known you were going, I would have. Maybe next year.

  3. There’s another coming in April.

  4. Want to come to First Tuesdays at the Capitol on April 7 or May 5?
    You can learn more, see our great videos, and sign up on the TMA Web site.

  5. In Arkansas we have “Doctor of the Day” at the State Capitol. Each day during the legislative session a different physician will volunteer. This allows you to spend the day at the capitol meeting all the Representatives, Senators and occasionally the Governor. You get introduced on the House and Senate floor, shake a lot of hands and gets lots of pats on the back. You cover sick call in the Capitol Infirmary for a few hours. In general a great way to meet your representatives. I have done this several times and have really enjoyed it. If Texas has something similar to this you may want to volunteer.

  6. Jack Coupal says:

    The media generally portray the doc as a money-grubbing ogre who takes advantage of people at the worst of times. Unfortunately, our legislators mostly go to the media to learn what is on the public’s mind.

    That TMA program sounds great. When lawmakers realize that you are real live people with legitimate talents and concerns, their sources of information will increase.

    I hope other states have similar programs.

  7. In Texas, the “Doctor of the Day” program is run by the Texas Academy of Family Practice. Go to for details on how to participate, but they may already have every day covered for the 2009 legislative session.

  8. Our Doctor of the Day program is run by the Arkansas Medical Society and is open to any physician

  9. Good job getting involved. I commend anyone that can get into local politics. Keep up the good blogging!


  10. I’m sure you were doing a lot of good things for doctors, but rarely does physician political lobbying involve what’s best for patients. Not that it’s anti-patient, it’s just not a factor.

  11. I know I’m biased, but I really think Texas Medical Association’s 2009 legislative agenda is very much in the best interest of patients:
    – Health insurance reform: Patients Right to Know
    – Improve immunizations
    – Fight obesity
    – Improve access to care

    Check out Doctor’s Orders