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For the premier issue of YO Info, it was strongly suggested by several of our colleagues to profile Christopher Chambers, MD. Dr. Chambers attended the University of Notre Dame and received his medical degree from Ohio State University. He is currently a first-year ophthalmology resident at Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit.
The Importance of Involvement
I guess you could say I came by ophthalmology naturally. My father is also an ophthalmologist (Robert Chambers, MD), as was my next door neighbor John Stechschulte. Dr. Stechschulte was an active member in the AAO, and I remember listening to him talk about the importance of understanding the issues regarding the profession of ophthalmology and, more importantly, playing an active role in the issues at hand.
He told me that if you take a back seat, you miss a lot and you can lose ground with all the changes happening around you. By taking a back seat, you are letting someone else drive, so to speak, and they are making the decisions and planning the outcomes for you, and they may not have you or your patients’ best interest in mind.
A Chance to Drive
Needless to say, by the time I got to Kresge, my attention had been piqued. When it was announced that ophthalmology residents could attend the Mid-Year Forum in Washington, D.C., I jumped at the chance.
I took part in Advocacy Day, which gives residents and physicians the opportunity to talk with their Congressmen about issues that directly affect ophthalmology, including reimbursement, scope of practice issues and vision screenings for children. Prior to attending the meeting, I thought I knew a lot about the issues, but I quickly realized that I actually knew very little.
I was also taken by how much the AAO is doing for its members in the realm of advocacy, both for physicians and for patients. With everything from care of indigent patients and ophthalmology research to reimbursement and coding issues, the Academy plays a huge role in so much that affects the every day lives of ophthalmologists. They also take great pains to help members-in-training transition to practicing physicians, and, in my opinion, they are doing a pretty darn good job.
Stand Up and Stand Up Now
It was clear to me just how important it is to get involved, be informed and play an active role. It doesn't matter if you attend the Mid-Year Forum, listen to the stories of those who did, read the Washington Report, contribute to the political action committee, or voice your opinions and concerns to your Congressmen. Just do something.
If you are not speaking for your rights, your profession and your patients, then someone else is. There are lots of people out there with something to gain, including us. Regarding scope of practice, ophthalmologists have nothing to gain. Therefore, any compromise is a loss on our behalf.
But, most importantly, we have to stand up for what is best for our patients. If we lose, they are the ones who pay the price in the long run, and that would be a travesty.
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