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  • We all became physicians to help patients. I realized after many years of searching for my personal vocation that I also want to advocate for patients’ well-being. I want to use all of my knowledge and all my talents to intercede for my patients.

    We must invest our energy in improving patients’ health through education. It is not about us. It is about our patients’ well-being. To do this successfully, we must all raise our voices and become patient advocates.

    All patients deserve the best eye care they can receive. Working together, we can protect them by educating lawmakers on the importance that eye surgery must be performed by surgeons! This is the gist of the Surgery by Surgeons campaign. Veterans have already demonstrated the positive impact that speaking in one voice can have. They successfully campaigned to ensure that surgeons perform their laser and eye surgeries.

    Many elderly patients (70 percent) in Puerto Rico have joined Medicare Advantage programs. Unfortunately, non-physicians play a role in deciding care for these Medicare beneficiaries. For example, non-physicians help determine which medications are used to treat glaucoma. We must educate Medicare officials on the priority of patient safety, with physicians leading their care!

    As we walk through the threshold of a new world of genetic therapy and revised bio-energetic theories of cancer, among many emerging opportunities in medicine, we must accept our leadership role. Only physicians and surgeons have the expert knowledge needed to advance these exciting developments. We must make the best of our resources to educate patients and their families, lawmakers and government officials, industry executives and other physicians.

    Campaigns must be started at home, nationally and internationally. For the sake of our patients, we can do it! Join us!

    Natalio J. Izquierdo, MD, is a glaucoma and ocular genetics specialist.