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Many issues feel overwhelming when confronted in an isolated office, which is why joining a medical society with like-minded folks can be empowering.
Several years ago, we decided to get more involved with the Massachusetts Medical Society to give our voice to the needs of primary-care in our state. Although the society does not have authority to force legislative changes, they are a strong lobbying group and our state legislatures listen to the opinions of the society. To date, our involvement as a delegate has enabled us to pass resolutions to support things we care about, including later school start times and pay parity for Medicaid. One of the unexpected benefits, however, has been especially useful lately: It helps combat physician burnout.
Many issues feel overwhelming when confronting them in the isolation of our office, but when addressing them with the strength of the society, we feel empowered to make a difference. We admit that involvement with the society can sometimes feel like just another demand on our time (like this blog), but making time to advocate is well worth it.
The biannual meetings offer an opportunity to interact with fellow physicians from across the state who are facing many of the same issues we are (rising patient out-of-pocket costs, changing compensation models, the opioid crisis) as well as exposing us to issues that do not directly affect us in primary care (changing regulation for independent surgical centers).
Members of the society present issues that are important to them and urge the members to take action with the state legislature to bring about changes. The most recent meeting, held just this month, addressed such diverse topics as telephone care reimbursement, support for medical trainees who are part of the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program, and the role the society can take in addressing climate change. Each delegate can express an opinion about the resolutions; to support, oppose, or to amend the resolution. Much to our surprise, we have found it fun to use parliamentary procedure, although we are far from an expert on The American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure.
Bringing the diversity of opinions and experience among physicians in the format of the Massachusetts Medical Society promotes debate and discussion, and leads to a consensus that the Society can act on. These activist accomplishments mean more now than ever.