The President’s Podium: A Final Message

By Dennis M. Dimitri, M.D., President, Massachusetts Medical Society

Dr. Dimitri XIn my inaugural address a year ago, I spoke about something I consider to be one of the most important issues facing the medical profession today: physician (dis)satisfaction.

As the end of my presidency approaches, I believe it is important, not only to our colleagues in the profession, but to our patients as well, to reiterate some of what I said.

My remarks last May highlighted the fact that we physicians are privileged to have our patients come to us, sharing openly all of their own difficult circumstances, that they look to us to help them overcome these problems.

I urged my fellow physicians to remember that that privilege means we must put our patients’ interests before ours. I reminded colleagues that we should think for a moment about the impact we have on our patients’ lives.

Still, we hear much about physician burnout and the loss the joy in practice.

“Physician” still rates as one of the most respected professions in every public poll, yet many within the profession are less sure of that.

This increasing dissatisfaction within our profession provided the genesis for the annual education program at the 2016 MMS Annual Meeting – Sustaining Joy in the Practice of Medicine: Compassion, Innovation, and Transformation.

I have the privilege of moderating a program with national experts who share the love of practicing medicine and who are committed to helping physicians overcome these challenges and restore their passion for this profession.

Participants include Jeffrey J. Cain, M.D., Chief of Family Medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado; M. Bridget Duffy, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Vocera Communications; and Christine A. Sinsky, M.D., Vice President of Professional Satisfaction for the American Medical Association.

Among the topics to be addressed are lessons we can learn from patients, why caring for the caregiver is so important, how we can transform the practice of medicine, and how physicians can rediscover the joy in the practice of medicine.

My tenure as MMS president has been marked by many issues, most significantly the opioid epidemic, electronic health records, and the search for a new executive vice president of MMS.  Given the urgency of those subjects, I didn’t get as much opportunity as I would have liked to focus on the issue of physician satisfaction.

While I end my presidential year firmly believing that we have established our medical society as a leader in the Commonwealth’s fight against substance abuse, that we made an important contribution in easing the burdensome requirements of information technology, and that we have selected a new executive who will be a great partner of physicians for years to come, I wish to leave colleagues with the same message I imparted when I became president.

And that message is this: Physicians really are different, and what gives us the greatest satisfaction is providing good care to our patients. It’s what our patients expect, it’s what we like to be able to do, and it’s what we should remember on those days when the frustration mounts.

So when you are feeling dissatisfied about regulations, prior authorization, delays in payments, or searching for a course to fulfill your risk management CME’s, remember this: I helped some patients today.

The President’s Podium appears periodically on the MMS Blog, offering commentary on a range of issues in health and medicine.


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