Primary Care Physicians discuss the importance of advocacy and organizing

The HMS Center for Primary Care and Harvard Home for Family Medicine is thrilled to share that - for the first time ever - advocacy will be taught in students' first week at Harvard Medical School.

What is a “Physician Advocate”?  From the AMA: Action by a physician to promote those social, economic, educational, and political changes that ameliorate the suffering and threats to human health and well-being that he/she/they identify through their professional work and expertise.

In the video below, first screened for 1st year Harvard Medical and Harvard Dental students on August 4th 2021 during their "Introduction to the Profession" course, you will be introduced to a number of HMS graduates and affiliates who are working as advocates and organizers, in addition to their work as physicians.

Highlights from Interviews - Screened on August 4th 2021 - Harvard Intro to the Profession:

Full Interviews from featured Physician Advocates:

Primary Care Physician Advocate Video Interview

Lara Jirmanus, MD, MPH

[Link to bio]

Juliana Morris MD, EdM

[Link to bio]

Andrew Morris-Singer MD

[Link to bio]

Matt Tobey, MD, MPH

[Link to bio]

Venis Wilder, MD aka V. Tiarrá

[Link to bio]

Maine State Rep Sam Zager, MD, MPhil, FAAFP

[Link to bio]


Bios of Physician Advocates and Organizers:

Contributors for this spotlight answered the following questions:

  • What does it mean to you to be a Physician Advocate?

  • How can advocacy and organizing be a part of a career as a physician?

  • Why are physicians well positioned to be advocates and organizers?

  • How can students promote equity and stay involved in issues beyond the medical school walls, while concentrating on learning?


LaraJimanus-1Lara Jirmanus, MD, MPH

Dr. Lara Jirmanus is an Arab American family physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance, Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School, and a faculty member at the CHA Center for Health Equity Education and Advocacy. She founded and coordinates the Health and Law Immigrant Solidarity Network and the Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity. Jirmanus has been involved in grassroots organizing, advocacy, and research for many years, addressing worker and immigrant rights in the US, infectious diseases in Brazil and the impact of conflict and displacement in the Middle East. Her current research focuses on the effects of immigration enforcement on immigrant health in Massachusetts.

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Primary Care Physician, Cambridge Family Health, Cambridge Health Alliance

Instructor in Medicine, part time, Harvard Medical School

Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health

julianaJuliana Morris MD, EdM

Juliana Morris MD, EdM is a family physician with nearly 15 years of community organizing experience. In addition to her clinical work, she currently serves as Community Health Organizer at the Matahari Women Workers' Center and participates in several national health advocacy networks.

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Family Physician, MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School

morris singerAndrew Morris-Singer MD

Dr. Andrew Morris-Singer, board certified in internal medicine, is Chair and Founder of Primary Care Progress, as well as a practicing clinician, medical educator, and leadership/advocacy consultant. With nearly twenty years of experience in advocacy, he regularly writes and speaks on current trends in primary care, community organizing strategies to advance health care reform, and the emerging model of Relational Leadership™.

Pronouns: he, him, his

Co-Director of Morris-Singer Foundation

Founder and Chair of Primary Care Progress

Lecturer at Harvard Medical School

Assistant Professor in the Family Medicine Department at Oregon Health and Science University

Matt-Tobey-250x250Matt Tobey, MD, MPH

Matt Tobey, M.D., M.P.H., is an internal medicine physician and the Director of the Rural Medicine Programs at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He works in primary care and hospital medicine at the Rosebud Service Unit of the Indian Health Service, founded the MGH Fellowship Program in Rural Health Leadership, and directs MGH's partnerships with the Indian Health Service and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He has advocated related to topics including rural health, teaching hospital - Indigenous community partnerships, care for substance use disorders, and care for incarcerated individuals.

Pronouns: he, him, his

Director, Rural Medicine Programs, Massachusetts General Hospital
Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School

venis_wilder_0Venis Wilder, MD aka V. Tiarrá

Venis Wilder, MD aka V. Tiarrá is a musician, physician and activist from Fort Lauderdale, FL. During the day, she is a medical director at a large primary care organization in South Florida, where she also sees patients as a family physician. In the evening, she is a singer-songwriter known as V.Tiarrá, creating songs and music videos like "Batter Up" and "Digital Love" which get people to both move and think about the social conditions of the world. Venis attended Duke University, Harvard Medical School, and Columbia University/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She believes in creating a world where everyone can live their fullest potential, something she actively teaches her 6 year old daughter.

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Medical Director and Family Physician, Sanitas Medical Center, Doral, FL

sam zagerMaine State Representative Sam Zager, MD, MPhil, FAAFP

Representative Sam Zager MD is a family physician and serves Portland constituents in the Maine State Legislature. He served 11 years in the U.S. Navy before attending HMS. Dr. Zager began his advocacy work in 2010 by helping to protect public libraries in disadvantaged Boston neighborhoods from closure. His evidence-based approach to public policy subsequently has involved promoting equitable access to healthcare, and a host of other issues. Dr. Zager's published research and his advocacy in the Maine State Capitol and in the U.S. Congress have focused on social-determinants of health.

Pronouns: he, him, his

Family Physician, Martin's Point Health Care

State Representative, Maine



For more information on this program please contact Megan Lenneman at or Dr. Kathe Miller at


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