By Charles Cutler, MD
Note: PAMED members are sharing why they have a passion for advocacy. Part 3 of this series features Charles Cutler, MD, Internal Medicine, Norristown Internal Medicine Associates, and President-Elect at PAMED.
Pennsylvania Medical Society Past President John Hobart, MD—"a good friend and a great leader"—gave members like Charles Cutler, MD, the sense that they could accomplish meaningful tort reform. A tort reform rally in Harrisburg filled the Capitol steps attended by hundreds of doctors in white coats gave Cutler a feeling of solidarity, he says, "and a real sense that we could accomplish something good, that we could make changes, and there was momentum."
Impact comes from many physicians voicing the same message, he adds.
"Numbers help," he said. "The more legislators hear from constituents, the more likely they are to believe that there's need for change and action."
Be patient, set modest goals, and be persistent. "It's tough to make somebody have a 180-degree change in their mind," Dr. Cutler added, "but if you can change it 20 degrees one time and then another 20 degrees, eventually you might get to 180 degrees."
Physicians have to believe that their individual involvement "can make a difference," Dr. Cutler said. "There's no shortage of doctors who feel frustrated, who watch the nightly news and hear the media and get turned off. You have to believe that you, as a physician, can make a difference."
Doctors who are involved help strengthen their communities economically because health care is such a large employer. They also fulfill "an ethical responsibility to represent our patients and be sure that they have the services that they need to live productive lives."
Young physicians should be particularly motivated to get involved because "they're going to be around longer," Cutler says. "For someone like myself, who's a lot closer to retirement than to starting a career, these issues are not quite as important as they are to somebody who will be taking care of patients for the next 40 years."
This post originally appeared in the Pennsylvania Physician Magazine. It is republished with permission.