I want to preface this article with the caveat that I only know about American CM practitioners and that much of what I have to say could be limited to that demographic. But, perhaps there is a more global appeal. One of the things that shocked me when I entered this profession as a student to find widespread disorganization at both student and professional levels. At my school, it’s exceedingly difficult to get anyone interested in organizing for the purposes of setting a course for the future or acting on issues before they become problems. Getting people motivated to fix something that is already broken is somewhat easier. I understand that people are busy, that as students we have to do a lot of lifestyle triage to maintain sanity.
However, I also know that the future of this profession lies with us – with the students. We are at a critical juncture in human history. We are at a critical junction in the development of health care – I need only mention the recent rash of documentary style movies about various health crises (Sicko, anyone?) and you will know what I mean. Out-of-pocket healthcare costs are spiraling out of control, medical mistakes continue to be a leading cause of death in the country and people are choosing “alternative” medical treatments at higher rates every year. The people need a better way and we as current and future CM physicians know a better way.
But acting alone or, at best, in small groups is not the answer. It won’t help us lobby Congress to get better loan options as students, it won’t help us get loan forgiveness, it won’t help us to become licensed in more states, it won’t help us stave off attacks from the FDA and other medical professions. Even on a lower level, being organized is good business sense. When you have a broad and deep network of peers to coordinate with, to build referrals with and to discuss difficult cases with – your acumen as a physician will increase, your patient numbers will increase and your ability to reach the widest number of suffering people will increase.
It does take work, though. It takes sacrificing time. It takes sometimes talking through difficult issues with people you don’t necessarily even like. It takes late night conference calls and marathon committee meeting sessions. It takes being willing to have your mind opened and changed. Sometimes it means eating a little crow.
I want to be part of a healthy, thriving profession that is working as hard as it can to be a solution for the health care crisis facing the United States and much of the world. I want to start working towards that as a student to build a firm foundation for my development as a professional. I want you to join me. Will you?