Resolution Writing Guide
LMSA Resolution Writing Guide – You have an idea. Now what?
A. What are resolutions for?
Resolutions are essentially proposals for a policy position that you think LMSA should support. Resolutions can range from broad to very specific (i.e. “RESOLVED that our LMSA support covering the uninsured” or “RESOLVED that our LMSA support a ban on smoking on airplanes.”)
B. Your brilliant idea: is a resolution the most effective strategy?
As you are deciding whether to write a resolution, it is important to consider where it will fit into the broad scheme of the LMSA. Specifically: Is your issue something that is within the scope of LMSA? For example, asking LMSA to come up with guidelines regarding prostate cancer screening is probably better left for the Society of Urologic Oncology.
C. Your brilliant idea: is there already existing policy?
- If there is a policy position you think LMSA should take, the first step is to identify existing policy on that particular issue. For example, if you want LMSA to support covering the uninsured, you would want to make sure that similar policy has not already been passed by the organization. As policy is passed it will be posted and made accessible to the public on the LMSA policy website.
- If there is no existing policy and you have determined that a resolution is the best way to move your policy proposal forward, start writing! If there is current policy but you feel it needs to be changed, start writing! If there is existing policy but it is several years old and you think it needs to be re-emphasized, you can write a resolution asking for the relevant policy to be reaffirmed.
D. Your brilliant idea: what is the data?
- Before you decide to write a resolution, you need to know a lot about your topic. You will use this information as you write the resolution as part of your “Whereas” clauses to convince others to support your resolution. The most important pieces of data include relevant statistics, percentages and current research and publications that support your position, though emotional testimony can be powerful as well.
- For journal publications, try using Ovid, PubMed, UpToDate, etc…
- For health policy publications, the RAND Corporation, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) all have useful data available.
- Please note: References are required to be included at the end of the resolution and are used for documentation of Whereas clauses.
Formulating your resolution writing plan – Scope of the resolution:
- The first step is determining whether your resolution is appropriate for LMSA to adopt, or more appropriate for implementation on a regional basis. If you have questions concerning this please feel free to contact your regional or national policy chairs.
- The nest step is deciding whether this issue is something the LMSA can accomplish or whether it needs to be forwarded to professional organizations such as the National Hispanic Medical Association, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus or the Latino Caucus of the American Public Health Association. Resolutions that are limited to the LMSA are considered “internal” resolutions and can have a variety of goals, including policy statements, requests for action, requests for study, etc…(i.e. RESOLVED that our LMSA encourage healthy eating in public schools).
- On the other hand, some resolutions need to be forwarded to professional organizations that may have more lobbying power on a regional or national basis (i.e. RESOLVED that our LMSA support covering the uninsured). These resolutions must pass the LMSA Congress of Delegates at the Student Policy Section at NHMA, and will then be forwarded to national policy chairs to create a strategy for implementation through other professional organizations.
Writing your resolution: you are finally ready to begin writing!
Breakdown of resolution structure: Below the title/authors, first begin with:
- Whereas clauses – This is where you include all of your relevant background information to the resolution. Be able to cite concrete examples, statistics, articles, and studies in the Whereas clauses to firmly support your resolution. It is not enough to simply state that a problem is happening or that something needs to be done unless you are able to back it up with strong, sound evidence. However, be careful not to put all of your background material into the resolution because you will need to save a major point or two for testimony (discussed below). Also remember that you can have as many Whereas clauses as you want but as they are primarily background material, there is no need to be exhaustive. Concise (yet complete) Whereas clauses are the most effective.
- RESOLVED clause(s): These are written immediately below the last Whereas clause. The RESOLVED clause(s) make up the main content of your resolution and this is the part that is open to debate on the assembly floor. In other words, this is the most important part! Each new idea should have its own RESOLVED clause. Write each of your RESOLVED clauses so that they are concise, specific, and action-oriented. To make an action-oriented RESOLVED clause, you will want to include some sort of “call to action” for LMSA. Starter phrases for a call to action include, but are not limited to, resolving that LMSA “ask for…,” “work with… to…,” “increase/decrease…,”“promote…,” “examine…, ” “study the impact/effects of…,” “determine whether/if…by…,” “create materials to…,” “develop a program to…,” “support/not support legislation …,” etc… Along with being action-oriented, you need to be specific about what you want the AMA HOD or AMA-MSS to do, but not so specific that you involve excessive details where they are unnecessary.
Good basic writing skills –
You need to avoid any spelling or grammatical errors in your final draft of the resolution. This includes misuse of words, punctuation errors, syntax errors, etc… If necessary, have a few other people peer-review your resolution just for these elements. The regional policy chair is a great person to start with when you want to run a check for these errors.
Using appropriate language-
You will want your resolution to be clear, concise, but still meaningful. It is key to avoid extreme and confusing language and redundancy. Again, a good way to test for these is to have a few other people peer-review your resolution and point out areas that are repetitive, confusing, or easily misinterpreted. Finally, make sure you use the K.I.S.S. method: Keep It Short and Simple as you write both your Whereas and RESOLVED clauses; this will make for easier reading for the MSS Assembly.