2013 AANS Annual Report - page 21

Accelerating and Advancing Legislative Advocacy
Maya Babu, MD, MBA, Juggles Residency with Health-care Reform
hen it comes to patient safety, the modus
operandi of Maya Babu, MD, MBA,
is clear: “Forty or 50 years ago, [the
neurosurgeon’s] obligation was to treat patients and
families. Our obligation [now] has expanded to us
thinking about the system in which they’re getting
care and how they’re getting care.”
Currently a fourth-year neurosurgical resident at the
Mayo Clinic, Dr. Babu said that a desire to help others
led her to medicine; her desire to affect the quality and
access of care led her to advocacy. “[A mentor I had in
medical school told me] that you need to have a way to
influence how [health care] affects lots of people,” she
stated, noting that such facets as cost and access are
influenced by the system. “For tertiary specialists like
neurosurgeons, we have more roadblocks that keep us
from seeing patients as easily.”
During a summer internship at the Substance Abuse
and Mental Health Services Administration of the
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Dr. Babu
realized that a background in management would
broaden her understanding of how contractors,
service providers and other health-care players
were affected by policy decisions. Soon after, she
completed a joint MD/MBA at Harvard University.
Among her key legislative focuses are payment
models, delivery reform and medical liability. “Medical
education funding [also] has been a huge issue,” she
noted, citing recent budget cutbacks. “In thinking about
how our education system looks, what does it mean
about how we’ll deliver care in the future?”
Dr. Babu finds that the support of her program director,
co-residents and chairman has been essential to
her clinical and legislative efforts. “It’s good to have
colleagues who value your involvement…they get it, and
they understand the importance of being involved.”
Along with educating policymakers, Dr. Babu finds it
imperative to inform her medical colleagues on the
importance of legislative advocacy in medicine and
on just how simple it can be. “We think of advocacy as
this big ordeal. We have to go to Washington, D.C.; we
have to lobby and do fundraising. But a lot of the value
we can provide [to legislators] has to do with building
relationships,” she added. “One of the values we
can provide is to be the source of information for our
elected officials…we can meet with them and talk to
them, tell them to let us know if we can be a resource
in any way. This is not necessarily about political
ideology, but a human relationship.”
An Eagan, Minn. native, Dr. Maya Babu completed her
undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota,
where she studied neuroscience and psychology.
In addition to her roles as the chair of the National
Resident Committee of the Association of Women
Surgeons and service on the Minnesota Medical
Association’s board of trustees, Dr. Babu was elected
to the board of trustees for the American Medical
Association in June 2013.
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