January 08, 2018
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Leadership
Theodore M. Mazer, M.D.
Leading the California Medical Association (CMA) is an awesome responsibility – one that includes representing physicians in the battles medicine faces in California and nationally; promoting policies that protect our patients, our practices and our ability to care for our communities; and preventing regulations that contribute to the ever-increasing problem of burnout among physicians that is resulting in early retirement or career change, frustrations and even suicide.
I believe all physicians are responsible to protect the profession of medicine in the present and for the future. And no one can do that alone. We can do it as a team, listening to our colleagues, especially where their insights and needs differ from ours. I am so encouraged by talking to our medical students and young physicians, with their fresh ideas and outlooks, dedicated to the future of patient care.
One of those students, Cecelia Bonaduce-Leggett, put it well when asked why busy medical students would get involved with medical politics, saying: “We believe the future of medicine should have a say in the future of medicine.” If only those who want to tell us how to practice our profession could take a leaf from her book! Listening to those actually practicing medicine to inform public policies for the future.
Fulfilling our mission “to promote the science and art of medicine, the care and wellbeing of patients, the protection of the public health and the betterment of the medical profession,” we must advocate for physicians as professionals, enabling us to do what is right for our patients. To support the supremacy of the physician-patient relationship, which allows the unfettered sharing of intimate information and decision making, aware of but unhindered by purely economic factors. We must support physicians in all specialties and modes of practice, so that patients can choose to receive care in whatever forum best suits them.
Every idea starts with one person. The scholar Hillel said that a single candle can light a thousand other candles without diminishing itself. Each of us is such a candle. Each can inspire others to resist forces that impede our ability to care for patients, and each can promote positive changes. Each of us can encourage our colleagues to join us, whether actively or simply as members supporting our efforts. Our actions are for all physicians, and no one should be a bystander.
I look forward to working hard this year on your behalf. I know that when we work together to find common ground on issues and solutions, regardless of specialty or mode of practice, we build an even stronger CMA, and prove the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Theodore M. Mazer, M.D.