Leverage Your Expertise to Ignite Change

Saturday, September 29, 2018

As scientists and healthcare professionals, we are experts. Despite our training status, our unique experiences and education give us the fuel to make raise awareness, make compelling arguments, and propose policy change. But how do we make a roaring fire out of kindling?

Dr. Louise Aronson, MD, MFA, spoke with students, staff, and faculty to share her knowledge about crafting op-eds. Her lecture was the first of four events in a series aimed at giving scientists tools and training to powerfully use their voices before, during, and after the upcoming midterm elections.

Why op-eds?

Opposite editorials, or op-eds, are opportunities for the public to share opinions and call for change. To be effective, these pieces must be accessible to a broad audience, seductive, and leave readers a course of action.

Weaving your science, expertise, or unique perspective into a narrative helps draw readers in and makes your problem accessible to them. Avoiding jargon and abbreviations aids in clarity.

Op-eds can be very complementary to, and can elevate your scientific or clinical work. You never know who is reading and to what level your opinion may be elevated.

The easiest decision a reader can make is to stop reading. Drawing your audience in through strong openers, acknowledging and addressing contrarian views, and avoiding dismissive or demeaning language can keep a reader engaged.

Put your thoughts into action

The UCSF Science Policy Group (SPG), one of the co-sponsors of the event, is encouraging UCSFers to submit op-eds ahead of the midterm elections.

Op-eds can be most impactful when shared through an appropriate medium for the target audience, and when they are shared outside of an echo chamber. SPG is encouraging people to submit op-eds to their hometown newspapers, which might not get op-eds about science, research, or science policy as often as those in the Bay Area.

In fact, they are hosting an op-ed writing contest, with the winner taking home a $300 prize, as well as a raffle for five $100 prizes for all entrants. Interested in joining the competition? Indicate so here.

Get your toes wet, or at least your fingers typing, with Join Dr. Aronson for a How to Write an Op-Ed: Hands-on Workshop on Monday, October 8.

In a time of alt-facts, science matters now, more than ever.

Policy can be shaped through powerful op-eds. You are capable of using your personal experiences, training, and expertise to move mountains through your words. You have the kindling, now you just need a spark to get your fire roaring.