Monday, February 01, 2010

Discouraged physicians drop out of politics

Here's a story that confirms what many of us have long suspected:

Physicians are dropping out of the political field, leaving to others decisions that affect their ability to practice medicine.

If you think you cannot make a difference, or don't want to get into something as unpleasant as politics, view the video below in which a doctor explains her evolution into active advocacy and lobbying.

Then view the video conversation with a lobbyist for a state medical association for his sobering estimate of what percentage of physicians lobby and how that affects his ability to represent them.

Poll Finds That Physicians Long for Political Action

TAMPA, Fla. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new poll of doctors across the country finds that physicians desperately want to play a bigger role in the political process, especially when it comes to health care reform.
As the number of uninsured Americans continues to climb, political candidates are being called upon to make sweeping changes to the U.S. health care system. As a result, doctors say it's more important than ever for them to become more involved in the political process, according to the survey conducted by the American College of Physician Executives.
An overwhelming majority of the more than 760 doctors who responded to the survey said the input of doctors is vital if the health care system is ever truly going to be reformed. A majority also said they vote in every election and many donate money to candidates or causes they support. But they also expressed frustration and cynicism when talking about politics.
"I have given up on the political process," one survey respondent wrote. "Washington fiddles while Rome burns. Hearings regarding steroids in baseball are given more attention than fixing our national disgrace of the uninsured. At best, politicians are 'useful' idiots. At worst, they are venal and utterly unconcerned about the ongoing collapse of our health care 'system.'"
Some of the survey participants said physicians aren't well-suited for politics because they aren't well-organized and have a diverse array of interests. As a result, their message gets lost among the more unified organizations, such as hospitals, insurance companies and trial lawyers.
One doctor called the medical profession "the antithesis" of politics, which is all about making deals and compromising. "We are trained to be analytical and straightforward and to recommend the best course for our patients," the doctor wrote. "We are not used to negotiating for what we think is the best treatment for our patients."
Most physicians agreed that the time to get involved in politics is now. As the country decides who will be its leader for the next four years, the debate surrounding health care is growing more heated and doctors' voices need to be heard.
The survey was conducted in March and the results are published in the May/June issue of The Physician Executive Journal of Medical Management published by the American College of Physician Executives.
To receive a copy of the ACPE 2008 Political Survey results, including nearly 200 comments posted by the doctors, please email Bill Steiger, ACPE VP Communications, at
The American College of Physician Executives, with 10,000 members, teaches leadership and management skills to physicians. ACPE has been serving physician leaders for more than 30 years.
Contact: Bill Steiger, or 800-562-8088
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American College of Physician Executives
CONTACT: Bill Steiger of American College of Physician Executives,+1-800-562-8088,
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