Emergency Physicians as State Legislators

During the recent Leadership and Advocacy Conference (LAC) in Washington, D.C., I met with two emergency physicians who are currently elected to their state legislature, Amish Shah, MD, MPH, and Arvind Venkat, MD, FACEP.

Dr. Shah: I’m in the state legislature in Arizona and I’ve learned a lot about politics during that time (five years). I got into this because of public service. That is the motivation. I was practicing medicine for 15 years and realized that you can control what happens within the four walls of the ER, but you can’t control what comes in through the front door. Public policy and politicians help decide how that works. I saw that you could multiply your effect many times forward. So it was in that mindset that I decided to run for office for the very first time in 2017, and I won my first election in 2018. I’ve won three elections total now all in resounding fashion. Over the last five years in the Arizona House, my philosophy has been to think critically about the issues in front of us, to read the bills, to consider everybody’s viewpoints, to invite people into the conversation, to make arguments for and against every bill and think about the constituents.

Dr. Shah

My campaign style has been focused on knocking on doors. I’ve knocked 15,000 doors personally. This is not volunteers. I’ve had other volunteers knocking doors, but myself, I’ve knocked on 15,000 doors and the constituents have appreciated that because I’m willing to listen to what they have to say and consider different viewpoints. Listening, thinking about the needs and the problems that constituents have, and then trying to craft solutions to get at those problems, that’s the biggest thing politicians are really responsible for.

I’m the ranking member now on the House Health and Human Services Committee And I’ve had a lot of success, a track record of success.

I think the approach has always been to treat everybody there with dignity and respect, members of the other party, members of your own party that you don’t agree with, and try to think about what they have to say, find areas where you can work with people proactively.

I’m a Democrat and I have had more bills passed out of committee, more bills out of the chamber and more bills signed into law by a Republican governor than any member of my party.