In medical school and residency, we learned the intricacies of the human body. We discovered that our collective knowledge and understanding of the body’s functions are growing very rapidly, requiring our ongoing, active attention if we wish to remain current in our field. In contrast, many of us learned very little about the politics that govern the functions of our health care system, and we entered the workforce unprepared for the torrent of ever-changing policies and regulations that define how we practice. At least that was how I felt when I got started 11 years ago. Fortunately, advocacy is a larger priority today for our teaching institutions and our Academy, and I am honored to participate in the new “I Am an Advocate” campaign to further raise awareness of our vital role in shaping the future of medicine.
We are all incredibly busy – work, family, hobbies and other pursuits occupy much of our time. However, it is imperative that we all participate, in some fashion, to positively impact our profession and, ultimately, the care we provide our patients. There are so many ways to make an impact. Some, like me, enjoy the front lines and serve on the Academy’s federal and state advocacy committees. Some become active in their state ophthalmic or medical societies. Some may choose to directly communicate with their elected representatives to voice an opinion. Whatever the level of involvement, every action, every contact, helps advance our cause.
I urge every practicing ophthalmologist to consider the impact we could have if every one of us were involved. Consider your interests and your availability, and simply commit to at least one act of advocacy this year. You can make a difference!
Jeff Maltzman, MD, is a glaucoma/cataract specialist practicing in Tucson, Ariz.