Testimony is a powerful tool, with the power to bring the text of a resolution alive with debate and discussion. It is a unique and irreplaceable way for a medical student to learn the skills of patient advocacy, professional leadership, and ultimately public speaking skills. While the idea of “giving testimony” may sound daunting and intimidating at first, it need not be a scary process! It is simply a way to voice your perspective on a given issue.
The input from our members is essential in order to continue to evolve LMSA’s mission and lead initiatives for the betterment of Latino health. “The special needs of Latinos, whether U.S.-born, foreign-born or undocumented, are too often left out of the health care reform discussion.”
Thank you for your time and interest in this training, we are so happy you took the initiative to participate in the process. Now to begin, here are some guidelines, strategies, and examples for what makes a strong, persuasive, and coherent testimony.
First, the basic testimony template format….
Just like an oral presentation, the delivery of testimony is semi-structured. This keeps the process consistent and makes it quite doable!
Ex: “Thank you Mr./Madam Policy Chair.”
Ex: “Student X, speaking on behalf of University of X as author (or reader) of this resolution”
Ex: “I am speaking in support of the… ”
” I’d like to speak today about…”
“I’d like to address the resolution to alter policy writing vocabulary and replace the term “illegal immigrant” with “undocumented citizen” in legislative discourse.”
Who – undocumented citizens
What – Change in policy vocabulary
Where – in legislative discourse and policy making
How – by replacing it with undocumented citizen
Step 4: The WHY!
Ex: “Calling people “illegal immigrants” is wrong.” or “All people who use the term “illegal immigrant” think migrants are a burden or are racist.”
Argument 1– Using the blanket term “illegal immigrant or aliens” dehumanizes individuals, brands them as outsiders and criminals, and contradicts our goal of eliminating bias and achieving equity and inclusion in healthcare. The term “undocumented citizen” avoids judgment, disparaging connotations, and denotes belonging to society. To quote Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, “no human being is illegal.”
Argument 2- The language and tone we use does have an impact in the development of equitable health policy. For example, on the state of California’s health insurance website, they use the term undocumented persons to describe individuals eligible for a form of low income state insurance. On the state of Arizona’s health insurance website, they use the term “non-qualified aliens” to describe how the low income state health insurance is not available to this population of AZ residents. Within these distinct political spheres, California public state medical schools such as UCSF and UCLA have accepted undocumented students, whereas public state medical schools in Arizona are not supported by state legislatures in this endeavor. We must change the tone of the discourse to change the policies implemented thereafter.
Ex: “Therefore, although all documents and leaders using the term “illegal immigrant” may not have negative aims or intentions to disparage the undocumented citizen, I still support the initiatives to remove the term “illegal immigrant” from public discourse to support inclusion for undocumented citizens in US society and healthcare.”
“Thank you Mr./Madam Policy Chair.”
“Name, speaking on behalf of (myself/school/state) as author of this resolution.”
Brief summary of the issue.
List arguments for support to the resolution – limit to 3 separate arguments.
Finish with concluding sentence.
Familiarizing LMSA members with your resolution before you formally present it gives you an opportunity to establish a support base in the audience for when you present your resolution.
As the saying goes, 80% of success is simply showing up, have presence and make yourself known early.
Once you’ve written a resolution, you can take steps to ensure your resolution is not just a written statement but a model for action.
This is why we write resolutions, to follow up on them and make improvements. Writing powerfully worded policy is good step for visibility and raising awareness of an issue, but following through on your resolution is one of the most meaningful things you can do to make real policy change
This can be done on many different scales.
Resolutions can serve as a framework for your chapter and region to plan events, begin discussions, and network with others with similar goals. Here are some examples of how resolutions have been followed up on in the past.
For example, DACA Resolution:
RESOLVED, that the LMSA strongly encourage medical schools, residency and fellowship programs to clarify their DACA admission and match policies; and be it further
RESOLVED, that our LMSA supports regulatory relief to DACA eligibility in the absence of comprehensive reform as seen by the Executive Action declared in 2014, and be it further…
Ways to support:
Meetings with diversity deans to discuss DACA eligibility and lobby for change, supporting DACA events in local community events, scholarship fundraising, Op Ed pieces submitted to local newspapers, policy pieces or even formal publications.
Currently following the resolution, a taskforce of LMSA students in the Midwest are working on a publication for JAMA, recruiting students to research and write about DACA in medical education.
RESOLVED, that our LMSA recognizes the effects of sugar sweetened beverage on health outcomes in the young Latino population; and be it further
RESOLVED, that our LMSA releases a public stance against sugar sweetened beverage advertising and its consequences on metabolic syndrome incidence among Latinos
Ways to support:
Nutrition volunteer programs for LMSA, and attending local health education fairs. Partnering with local community organizations, like university and community diabetes prevention program for children, and speaking to local news outlets to increase awareness via media outlets
 As William Vega, Ph.D., co-director of the Network for Multicultural Research on Heath and Healthcare at UCLA