There is no question that healthcare and the practice of medicine is becoming increasingly complex, not just from a scientific and a medical point of view, but also from an economic, social, and political standpoint as well. The days of a physician simply showing up to work, taking care of their patients, and going home is long gone. In the ever-expanding, multifaceted interplay of economic, social, regulatory, and political factors that physicians face, it’s no wonder that physician suicide and burnout rates are so high. If we in the physician community care about improving the health of our patients and improving the dysfunctional healthcare delivery system in the United States, the physician voice must be increasingly present and unified—not only at the local level, but also the state and national levels. So much of a physician’s day is dictated by bureaucratic systems and processes that are often imposed by insurance companies or state or national laws, and very little of it has direct impact on patient care or improving patient’s health.
Elected officials are often well-intentioned, but they know nothing about healthcare or the complexities involved and what it’s like to practice medicine in the trenches. I remember so clearly the first time I ever met with an elected official to advocate for policies to improve the health of my community. They did not know the difference between a pediatrician and a podiatrist. If our voices are not present and not heard at the state and national policy-making level, then things are only going to get worse.
Engaging With Medical Societies & Organizations
Among other reasons, this is why I am a proud member of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the California Medical Association, and the California Academy of Family Physicians. Only through coordinated and collective efforts within organized medicine will we be able to move the needle.
Furthermore, the diversity of perspectives and insight and friendships that I have created within these organizations has been truly personally and professional fulfilling on multiple levels. I have learned so much from my colleagues and, although we don’t agree on everything, the conversation has helped broaden my own perspectives, so that we can better understand and collaborate to develop solutions to increasingly complex problems. Although physicians don’t often agree on everything, focusing on improved patient care and reduced administrative complexity of healthcare delivery is a clear goal which we all must work toward.
Advocating Together for Systematic & Policy Improvements
The amount of noise and rhetoric surrounding policymaking that directly impacts healthcare delivery and our nation’s health is truly mind-boggling. The only way that the trusted and experienced voice of the physician will break through the noise is by collectively working together. Although it may be challenging and take longer to arrive at the destination, we are ultimately stronger, smarter, and more effective together. As the adage goes, if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, you must go together. Organized medicine is the best way we can truly make a difference to improve our profession, as well as the health of our patients.
Who better than physicians to advocate for system and policy improvements that benefit not only patient care, but also allow physicians and other healthcare providers to practice at the top of their license? This is why physicians must increasingly work together and collaborate to ensure that our voices are heard and are at the table where these decisions are being made, as they impact all of us. Only through collaboration and being a part of organized medicine—be it county, state, or national medical societies, or specialty societies—will our voices be able to break through the constant noise and competing interests. Although physicians have a diversity of opinions on just about everything, we all want to improve the care we provide and the system in which we practice, and this unifying goal should and must be stronger that any niche issue that may divide us.