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  • There is no time like the present to advance the health of our nation. Lawmakers are currently setting the foundation for patient care that will shape medicine for decades. It will be transformative. But, what will this landscape look like? Without waiting for hindsight and lamenting its passing, be part of the process before it becomes history. Get informed and get involved.

    Although we are not always the ones who make the rules for health care, we are the ones who must follow them. Shouldn't physicians have a say? I would think so. Being an advocate is the means by which you can help patients beyond the clinic and operating room. Diagnosing and treating eye disease is my calling, and I want to do this most effectively for the length of my career. That enthusiasm, that kernel of hope in every talented, hard-working doctor is the saving grace of our system. And even if and when the system fails our patients, we cannot. Let your representatives know about it. In letters, in person, through your society, let them know that you care.

    Physicians are consumers of the very health care system that we prescribe. We offer a perspective that cannot be found elsewhere. There are countless stories from experience that you can share: the patient with a blinding condition that could have been prevented with proper diagnosis; a patient without access who comes to your local emergency department but cannot follow up; the disability and those affected by advanced disease; the life that is transformed when that disease can be reversed or cured.

    These are the stories of a profession that need to be heard.

    So you want to contribute. Where do you begin? State and local societies are a great starting point for getting a handle on issues that directly impact ophthalmology. OPHTHPAC and the Surgical Scope Fund help advocate at the national level and in those states that need particular focus.

    The time you put in is an investment for our future. Like an investment, the earlier you start, the more impactful the results. So jump in!

    Joseph T. Nezgoda, MD, MBA, is a surgical retina fellow at the University of California, San Diego.