CAP@YourService – Residents Issue – Winter 2010
Wow, what a difference a couple weeks and 120,000 votes can make for our nation and our future. The much anticipated Massachusetts Senate race showed that no matter how secure the political environment appears to be, nothing can be taken for granted. The election that established Scott Brown as the first Republican Senator elected from the Bay State since 1972 just might put a halt to the health care overhaul that had so much momentum going into the New Year.
Regardless of political ideology, the ramifications are indeed impressive and remind me a great deal of the challenges we are facing as pathologists. How is that, you ask? What we take for granted today—our scope of practice, our autonomy, our relationships with other physicians and patients—are now, more than ever, in jeopardy. Just as the decisions we make can drastically change the momentum of our patients’ lives, decisions being made by legislators, insurance companies, and other physicians have the ability to drastically change our profession, both positively and negatively.
At this stage in the game, we need to ask ourselves one of the first questions often asked by our patients after receiving a difficult diagnosis, “Where do I go from here?” While difficult to predict the outcome of health care reform, we owe it to our patients to continue maintaining and establishing our roles in their care. As a profession, we take pride in catching diseases early while still in a curable and controllable state. Our mindset and approach to identifying and “curing” potential threats to our profession must be no different. We must let our actions speak louder than our words and preemptively fight for our voices to be heard before it’s too late.
This starts with YOU!
Make the Most of Your Days in Training
Although we continue to learn after residency, few of us will have the luxury of having a work environment so catered to our education as we do in training. Therefore, strive to improve your skills by seeking out difficult and rare cases everyday. Improve your differentials so that you don’t miss an important diagnosis and delay the treatment of your patient. Attend consensus conferences and tumor boards at every possible opportunity to increase your understanding of the diseases you see and the ramifications of the diagnosis you provide. We owe it to our patients to give the best care possible, and we owe it to our profession to improve our diagnostic skills to the best of our abilities. You must earn the respect of your peers before you can expect to earn the respect of your nation.
Get Involved in Your Local and National Medical Societies
The CAP and American Medical Association offer many local and national opportunities to improve your awareness of the health care debate and get involved in ways to shape its progress. CAP Advocacy School, NewsPath®, Pathologists Real Stories on www.cap.org/transformation, and “High Impact Communications Made Easy” at CAP ’10 are all member benefits that the College provides to help residents and fellows get involved in shaping our profession, sharing information with our clinical colleagues, and promoting the care we provide for our patients.
Let Your Voices Be Heard
Contact your local representatives and tell them who you are and what you do. Express your feelings on health care, regardless of political ideology. As a pathologist, put your money where your mouth is and invite them to tour your department and show them the difference you make in your patients’ lives. Give them something to think about when they debate and vote for reform. Become a patient advocate and help put the health care issue in perspective. And remember, the College is here to help you!
Want more information on how to get involved? Contact me or Jan Glas for more information.
If we remain stagnant and continue following the same path most pathologists have followed for decades, without regard to the changes happening around us, we will find ourselves on the losing end of this battle. Now is the time to take charge of our future, positively influence its change, and bring home a victory for those we serve.
After the Massachusetts vote, Senator Chris Dodd remarked that health care reform was “hanging on by a thread.” We owe it to ourselves to prevent the line from breaking. We owe it to our patients to provide a rope instead of threads.
John J. Cangelosi, MD
Chair of the Residents Forum