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Taking the Osteopathic Oath to Heart

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mentoring the Next Generation... If Not You, Then Who?

By Bruce Williams, D.O., FACOFP


To have been given the opportunity to practice medicine is an honor and a privilege. With that privilege comes responsibility. We all realize that. We understand the responsibility to our patients, families, hospitals, etc. However, I’m wondering if we’ve all considered the responsibility we have to our colleagues and the profession? Are we looking out for each other? Because, if we are not looking out for each other, who is looking out for us? Who is considering our best interests? Who is advocating for us or our hospitals and patients? How about the insurance plans? Do they lose sleep at night worrying about the physicians? Are they concerned if the physicians get a fair deal? I submit that physicians need to look after physicians.

We all took the Osteopathic Oath. The very first sentence states, “I do hereby affirm my loyalty to the profession I am about to enter.” Have we all taken the time to really consider what that statement means? To me, it means that I will do everything in my power to protect, preserve and defend the profession and those who practice osteopathic medicine. What mechanism do we have to do that? We have our osteopathic organizations. We each have our local, state and national organizations and our corresponding specialty organizations. At the very least, every physician should be a member. So why is this not the case? I have heard various reasons, including: “I’m too busy.” “I don’t want to go to another meeting.” “I have too many other commitments.” “I’m not into politics.”

I can relate, and I suspect that we all can identify with at least one of these reasons. So what has been the result of physicians avoiding meetings, being too busy or having too many other commitments? Well, immediately, the Affordable Care Act comes to mind. We have also been blessed with mid-level providers helping out with our busy daily lives and helping to ease our burden by taking over our patients because after all, they can provide the same care we do. They also don’t shy away from politics, so they have solved that problem for us as well. And of course, we are all aware of the big pay raises we have been blessed with because our government and hospitals are looking out for our best interests. When we talk to our legislators, they all remark about the huge numbers of physicians they see at the Capitol every day. Sure they do.

It saddens me to see the apathy among physicians, especially at a time when we need each other the most. Our profession was made strong by iron-willed physicians fighting and clawing for practice rights, payment and speaking up on behalf of our patients. We had true mentors that stood up and were proud to be physician leaders. They commanded the respect of their colleagues, legislators, community leaders, hospital administrators and insurance companies. It was an honor to be asked to be on the board of your local or state medical organization or society. Even to be asked to sit on a committee, meant your opinion was sought after and respected. And by no means were you expected to always agree. In fact, quite the opposite was encouraged. Progress is made by injecting new thoughts and opinions.

Today, it is still an honor to be asked to be on a board or committee of a medical organization. Your opinion is still sought after and respected. And we do need differences of opinion to progress. We need committed leaders in our profession. We need youth. We need direction. We need mentors. We need you! And we need you now before the next “Affordable Care Act.” We need you to join us as a mentor and leader before the next pharmacist, optometrist, nurse, physician assistant, chiropractor or midwife states they can do everything we do. We need your participation before the next legislation further restricts our ability to provide the care for our patients we are trained to provide, or before it’s made so difficult to practice that it is easier to retire or go into a different line of work.

We are training the next generation of physicians in our schools. These students are the best and brightest there have ever been. They will also be OUR physicians as we age. We need to provide the example to them, just as we had the example of what it was to be a physician when we were getting started. They need to be encouraged. They are eager and energized. When I started my career, I had a physician approach me and ask me to be on the board of the Jackson County Osteopathic Association. Later, I was approached by another to consider being on a committee for the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (MAOPS). These physicians are my mentors. I was extremely honored that they considered me to be a physician who had something to offer. I didn’t want to let them down, because I knew of their passion for the profession and their patients. These physicians were pioneers who made our profession what it is because of their persistence and dedication.

We have leaders in our profession who continue to fight the battles for our profession and our patients. These are the leaders our students and young physicians will look up to as mentors. Next time you’re asked to serve as a district president, trustee or make a trip to the Missouri State Capitol for a day to talk to legislators, I hope you will see this as an honorable request and not a chore. I hope you will see this as a privilege and not an obligation. I hope you will step into this role with commitment and passion. I hope you will be eager to be counted among the leaders and mentors of our profession. I hope that when your dues statement arrives for your district, state, national and specialty organizations, you will willingly write that check because you remember the first line in the Osteopathic Oath you took to “affirm your loyalty to the profession you have entered.”

I’m proud of my profession, the physicians, students and each and every member of MAOPS. Let’s continue to set good examples and support one another. Together, we’re strong, and I believe there is no limit to what we can accomplish. Thank you all for your dedication to the profession and each other.

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Comments on this post...

Alan M. Weaver DO says...
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Teaching our young Osteopathic students and physicians remains a joy of our profession.This includes sharing business tips as well as medical pearls that help us all deal with the social pressures of our day...Being supportive is as important as being physically involved when we are less mobile and continues to be rewarding.
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Timothy W. Jennings DO says...
Posted Monday, March 30, 2015
Well said Bruce. Our young physicians are our future and we can all look back to who pushed us to get involved. Without a little nudge and encouragement, we may not have seen the importance of our state organization. We need to put people in place to take over when we all get ready to step down.
Tim Jennings
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Mark S. Pelikan DO says...
Posted Saturday, September 5, 2015

Very well said. I hope the rest of the people in our organization realize the sacrifices that are made by their colleagues. I rest assure you I will never stop. Allof you as mentors have set a good example. I hope I can do the same for the future of the profession. We will not let our mentors or the future Docs down.

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