On This 90th Doctors’ Day, Are We Making Progress?
We make progress every day—a life-saving difference for patients and our communities. But are we making progress as a profession?
Graduate medical education has not received the attention it deserves in Congress where they perennially consider cuts to this critical funding. Physician training has been hampered by a frozen number of residency positions since the ‘90’s. In turn, this has led to a national shortage of physicians anticipated to measure in the 50,000 to 100,000 range by 2030.
In practically every state, the physician-led model is eroding. Declining standards for licensure of non-physician practitioners while increasing their scope of practice has created a crisis for patient safety. This, in turn, increases cost without expanding access.
Medicine grows increasingly corporate. Private practice is suddenly scarce. Large hospital systems and provider networks—most driven by a profit-first mentality—are supporting the push for non-physician practitioner independence and reduced license requirements.
This is the opposite of progress.
On this 90th Doctors’ Day, physicians are waking up to the reality that we are more than healers. We are advocates for our patients, communities and our own profession. Because of our advocacy, we can point to undeniable victories:
A bill in Georgia just passed the state senate and may become law, outlawing deceptive and misleading credentials in healthcare and requiring all providers to clearly disclose their credential. One of PPP’s board members is an instrumental leader for this legislative push.
Physicians pushed back in South Dakota, and state lawmakers (narrowly) defeated a bill that would have granted independent practice to physician assistants.
In Washington State we educated our supporters, and a bill was defeated that would have granted increased scope of practice to psychologists for prescribing psychotropic and psychiatric medications.
Arizona nurse anesthetists might have received independent practice if it weren’t for the physicians who rose up and pushed back against this dangerous increase in scope. The bill was withdrawn.
But we cannot be complacent. Most state legislatures are still in session. There are countless bills under consideration that threaten patient safety and physician-led medicine.
We need more victories. When physicians join groups like Physicians for Patient Protection—coalitions that stand up and lean forward—progress happens.
To all physicians we wish a happy Doctors’ Day. And much more than this, we offer our determination to fight for patients and our profession, fearlessly and effectively.