Hosting Site Visits for Members of Congress at Your Institution

Hosting site visits is an excellent way to not only continue to build relationships with your elected officials, but also give the dental school or specific dental education program an opportunity to increase its exposure and continue to maintain its relationship with that congressional office. Site visits give elected officials a chance to see firsthand how dental education programs can positively impact the community. These visits are a good way to remind faculty and students about the importance of advocacy and re-invigorate them for the work ahead. Use site visits to link members of Congress with faculty and students who are willing to serve as resources during discussions on issues related to dental education. Finally, site visits give elected officials the opportunity to see what goes on in dental schools and dental programs on a day-to-day basis. 

Arranging the site visit

Arrange a site visit when your legislator is in his or her district and when classes are in session. The legislator’s schedule can be hectic, so be as flexible as possible with your schedule to accommodate the public official. Start by contacting the Member’s district office, they will tell you what they need.

Organizing media coverage

Work with the elected official’s press secretary or communications director as well as your institution’s communications/media staff to coordinate press activity. Invite local television news stations and newspapers to cover the event. Make sure to include the time, date and purpose of the site visit when you send out a media advisory to the local news outlets. If the media cannot be present, take pictures and include them with a summary of the activities to send to local media outlets.

Hosting the site visit

Prepare faculty and students before the visit by explaining what to expect during the visit. Have students interact with the Member of Congress and provide him/her with literature on local statistics regarding the effectiveness of your program. Be sure that during the site visit you make your request for any legislation needed to strengthen your dental education program.

After the site visit

Send a media release to local, state and national news outlets. Send a thank you letter to the Member of Congress and include any photos and press stories. In the letter, recap the highlights of the visit and restate any requests for legislation needed to strengthen your dental education program.