Throughout the year, the American Hospital Association urges hospital leaders, including trustees, to advocate with their federal legislators on various issues, including protecting patients from cuts to hospital funding, reducing red tape and decreasing the administrative burden on hospitals, and many more.

As a trustee, you are in the best position to help legislators understand all that your hospital does for the community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the challenges that you face as you strive to continue to deliver those services.

Advocacy also raises community awareness of a hospital’s mission and the role of trustees in ensuring the success of that mission. In addition, it strengthens your community by giving voice to the people served by your hospital who lack effective representation — children, the poor, the elderly and others. It’s also crucial to work with your hospital administrators to coordinate any contact with legislators to make sure you’re speaking off the same page and not working at cross-purposes, thereby confusing your legislators.

The AHA encourages all current or former hospital trustees to participate in its Trustee Leadership Network. The network provides information, resources and activities for trustees who are committed to advancing the health of individuals and communities, and supporting their local hospital’s work through advocacy activities.

Another way to be more involved in shaping the future of health care is to become involved in the AHA’s policy development process by participating in one of the association's various committees, which are now accepting nominations for 2018.

The Committee on Governance, the AHA’s leading trustee involvement group, spearheads grassroots advocacy and provides input into the AHA’s policy development efforts. Members serve three-year terms, are expected to attend three meetings annually and must be associated with an AHA-member hospital or health system throughout the length of their term.

The AHA's regional policy boards serve as one of the primary lines of communication between the association and its members. Members provide input on policy issues and serve as an ad hoc development committee when appropriate. They also help identify needs and challenges unique to each of nine regions across the United States and assist in developing solutions.

Interested trustees can read the Invitation for Trustee Involvement and submit an application through Feb. 23. For more information, visit or contact Rita Harmata, the AHA's director of trustee and community leadership, at or (312) 422-3311. 

Andy Stern ( is chair of the American Hospital Association Committee on Governance and a trustee of Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas.