Address of the CMA President, Dr. Ruth Haskins

October 16, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Leadership Professional Development & Education 

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It is with great enthusiasm that I take to this podium, newly installed as your President of the California Medical Association (CMA). I am honored. I am humbled.

During this next year I pledge to show you through my words and actions that you made the right choice in your vote.

My face and my words will represent the physicians of California, to your colleagues, to the public, to the legislature and other healthcare decision-makers.

This year I promise to do my best to restore the value to our profession.

Being physicians is not something we “do.” it is something we “are.” We need to be valued for the sacrifices we have made to earn our professional titles. We dedicated years of our lives for our education and training – giving up social events, missing holidays. Many of us delayed starting families and lost track of our favorite sports teams to spend hours with our face in a book or our hands in cadavers.

We need to be valued for what we give up every day as we try our best to remain passionate about our work. The responsibility of life and death decisions, compounded by administrative burdens often feels overwhelming. The public needs to know how much we’d rather be touching our patients than stroking our EMR keyboards; how much we’d rather be enjoying family time or exercising than completing charts at home every evening. We need to be valued for the hours of time we spend agonizing over details about our patients’ health and the business of our practice: time for which we will never receive compensation.

Our patients’ health and sometimes their lives are in our hands. Patients expect perfection in our every move and every outcome. They want to have us available for their needs completely and continuously, and are somehow insulted when they are expected to pay money for our ‘service’. They want us to do what they tell us, and they want our words and actions to align with everything they “extensively researched” on “Dr.Google.”

It is an unforgiving profession!

We need to be nicer to each other. We need to recognize how the Medi-Cal system has disempowered practicing physicians. We need to educate ourselves about the signs of professional burnout – take the time to prevent it personally, and take the time to recognize it in our colleagues and reach out to offer needed support.

Supporting each other is really the collegiality that membership in CMA represents. This collegiality fosters and promotes the value of our profession.

A recognition that we do value our Medi-Cal students. We do value physicians who have found alternate ways make their practice viable for our patients and themselves. As a profession, we do value motherhood. We must support each other, respecting the personal choices our colleagues have made to be able to optimally function in our profession.

The challenge of CMA will be to try in every way to simplify the practice of medicine so as to relieve these burdens that deplete our passion and deflate our self-value.

We need make MACRA tolerable: we need to seek deferral of what parts we can, eliminate what parts we can, and simplify application of parts that remain. We will continue to work aggressively through our Federal Lobbyist (Elizabeth McNeil) and with our powerful California-AMA Delegation to promote and enact the recommendations your CMA proffered to CMS.

We must restore Medi-Cal funding: We all need to heavily promote Prop 55 and Prop 56. Passage of these propositions would bring as much as 4billion dollars into the coffers available for Medi-Cal physician reimbursements.

We will take every opportunity with the California legislature to oppose unfunded mandates, to simplify new regulations, and to promote legislation that is supported by science and solid data.

In short, it is my pledge to you that I will do everything in my power, as your President to renew the passion and restore the value to the practice of our profession.


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