Physicians are born to care

James L. Madara, MD
CEO and Executive Vice President
American Medical Association
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There is frequent talk in health care and other circles about what it means to be a “mission-driven organization.” How should that notion affect difficult decisions about staffing, revenue, services and more? Those discussions are hard enough, to be sure. But as physicians, we hold ourselves to what is arguably an even higher standard. We are called to medicine because it is a mission-driven profession.

We are driven to heal the sick, comfort the dying, discover new treatments, gain a better understanding of disease, implement proven practices and teach tomorrow’s physicians to stand on the shoulders of giants and make their own marks in medicine. We were born to care.

That is our mission as physicians.

Together, physicians and the AMA are called to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of the public health. We are driven to improve patients’ access to care and to shape the health system so that it protects the well-being of physicians and the care we deliver. The AMA is devoted to helping you answer the call to care for patients, and we are driven to create resources to meet your life and career needs at every stage.

That is our mission at the AMA.

We know what physicians want because we have been talking with you. The AMA confirmed through robust research with widely respected partners that electronic health records (EHR) are depriving you of the time with patients that you value so highly, and that patient care above all drives your professional satisfaction. And a new survey of 1,200 medical students, residents and physicians demonstrates that, despite the challenges of contemporary medical practice, the commitment to a career in medicine as a way to help people is deeply rooted.

For too many doctors, their biggest problems have little to do with the puzzles of diagnosis and treatment. More than 60 percent of residents and physicians in our survey said “administrative burden” is one of the top three challenges they face.

Well, your burdens are our burdens. That is why we are working with health insurers to remove the prior-authorization requirements that gobble up physician and staff time and delay patients’ access to care. That is why we are making available more evidence-based tools to help you redesign your practice to improve care and reduce stress and strain.

The survey found that 82 percent of physicians are motivated to continue their careers in medicine because they want to help people. That is the simple, unvarnished truth. And when most other teenagers were mostly focused on getting a driver’s license, you felt the stirrings of medicine as your life’s mission. Nearly half of all respondents said they realized as teenagers that they wanted to become physicians.

Nearly 30 percent knew by the age of 12 that doctoring would be their path. For many other physicians, the inspiration to join medicine comes later in life. Yet whenever that spark of recognition arrives, many physicians say it feels as though it was always there.

You were born to do this. And the AMA, from its founding in 1847, was born to help physicians pursue their personal mission, with heads held aloft in the knowledge that the individual patient’s welfare is the paramount concern and protecting public health the ultimate goal.

I recall clearly the moment I felt medicine as my calling. In the sixth grade, I was hospitalized for an extended period with a serious illness. It was then I knew that, if I could, I wanted to help others get well and stay well. And today, in my role at the AMA, I feel called to make the most of the wonderful opportunity we have before us—to meet the needs of the nation’s physicians through our ongoing work.

In the months ahead, through our comprehensive brand initiative, you will see us striving to demonstrate to physicians, residents and medical students the many ways the AMA listens, supports and empowers you to succeed throughout your unique journeys with timely and relevant resources. Our intent is to recognize and celebrate the core reasons that physicians choose the profession, while also highlighting the broad array of initiatives and resources the AMA provides in support of your mission.

We understand the challenges you face and we are working to address them, so you can focus on what many of you feel you were born to do—care for your patients. We at the AMA are inspired by your tireless commitment to providing care, to your profession and to your mission. That is worth celebrating every day.

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Dr. Madara, With all due respect. Most physicians believe that the AMA has lost it's way and is no longer following the mission of 1847 or of 120 years since then. Only 12.8% of the AMA's budget is from membership dues and of interest AMA says we have 217,490 members [last year I could get data] of which 20% were students, 17% are residents and 25% are older than 65 [mostly retired] so only 82,646 are doctors under the age of 65 not in their residency. How many of them are in the Military, working at the VA, working for Kaiser and other large HMO systems, working in Academia or not even practicing but in business or administrative positions? In 2002 there were 278,000 members and many fewer medical students... With revenues from coding, billing, ICD-10 etc etc, most practicing physicians feel that you have abandoned us. We were against ACA, MACRA, MIPS and definitely against MOC. Do you want to really win us back or do you want to continue to be an extension of the governmental/insurance system billing bureaucracy? Five little things you can advocate can get our attention: A) Life time board certification---CME yes, MOC never... B) small private practices of less than 10 physicians should be MACRA and MIPS exempt... C) Any willing provider---whether Medicare or Insurance payer, any appropriate licensed physician should be paid and allowed to balance bill. Let doctors charge what they feel is reasonable and patients will have the choice to see them or not. Free market impact would balance cost and improve quality. D) Increase the number of medical schools as well as residency positions. E) Physicians should be paid hourly by the insurance industry and government for any administrative bologna that they makes us do---appeal letters, review letters, summaries, pharmaceutical requests for non low tier formulary etc. etc... You are 100% correct, we were born to care and governmental. insurance industry and even our own organization leadership has taken advantage of us because of that. Patients' should always come first but we must be supported right behind.
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Oct 08, 2018
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