(FYI this is a repost) Finally! I am so glad Election Day has arrived! The news coverage, tv ads, and mail fliers have been relentless. The rhetoric and polarization in the country right now seem worse than I can ever remember. Sadly, these are difficult times for sure both at home and abroad.
I know it has been a while since I have blogged. Since I last wrote, I have attended the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) annual meeting. From an innovation standpoint, I really don't really have anything new to report. However, I did find one of the speeches interesting highlighting the need for life-work balance. I have blogged previously on the mental health issues facing our country at large and the impact of Covid on mental health. However, I have not really focused on the stressors facing physicians. These stressors actually surfaced prior to Covid due to demands placed on physicians by EMRs (electronic medical records), increased bureaucracy, loss of autonomy (since many physicians felt forced to sell their practices to hospital groups), and medical malpractice. Sadly, the EMRs have taken physicians away from their patients and have turned us into data entry experts, all of which I believe have been done to help hospitals maximize revenues. In fact, I had to spend 2 days this fall learning Roper's new EMR system, and it was clear that one of the goals of the training was to ensure that we knew what boxes to click so we could "capture charges." All of these forces have led to an increased physician retirement, which only creates more pressure on those still working, especially as our population increases. Did you know that there are numerous counties in the state of Texas that do not have a single physician (I learned that little factoid over the weekend)? There now seems to be more acknowledgment of physician burnout, which was also a topic at the Charleston Medical Society Meeting last week. At that meeting, I learned a very startling fact: every single day a physician in the US commits suicide. It's apparent that things have to change. So, I have decided to help find solutions to these problems and I am now on the Advocacy Board of the Charleston Medical Society. I am hoping that I can help contribute to solutions to the problems that are plaguing the practice of medicine, doctors, and patients' access to healthcare.
Along the same lines, everyone can be part of the "process" and get involved by simply voting in elections. So don't forget to vote! Your voice matters and every vote counts! And to boost your energy this morning, the theme song for the day is a Rolling Stones Classic. The beat will get you going, though admittedly, the 1969-era lyrics are a bit depressing, albeit apropos. And who doesn't want a little shelter from all of this craziness?
Have a great week and stay dry if that tropical storm comes our way!
Until next time!
Heidi Williams, MD