I recently returned from the American Medical Association Annual 2014 Meeting in Chicago and was asked to reflect on my experience as a resident involved in organized medicine.
Organized medicine is the forum for change on a very large scale and functions as the legislative branch of medicine. It is a democratic infrastructure that allows physicians from all walks of life to advocate for their patients, practices, and the health of all Americans and international visitors who receive care in the United States. My decision to become involved was made as a first year medical student; my medical school was extraordinarily supportive, both with scheduling and financing, of trips to MSSNY and AMA meetings. My focus has been broad and I have written and/or advocated for policies ranging from childhood obesity, graduate medical education funding, and timelier program responses to resident and fellow applications to maintenance of certification regulations, SGR repeal, and mandated insurance coverage for lung cancer screening. These policies will directly impact public health, postgraduate education, access to medicine, and reimbursement for essential services.
We choose to practice medicine to help patients, solve a diagnostic mystery, treat illness, and save lives. However, when we become physicians, we also have a duty, which I believe we should all embrace, to improve the delivery of medicine over time. We can accomplish this through a variety of ways including research, education, administration, and organized medicine. How will you affect change?
Gayle Salama, MD, is a radiology resident at Weill Cornell Medical College