Last Updated: Dec 7, 2022
For 175 years, the Pennsylvania Medical Society has provided a voice to physicians as they navigate both changes and challenges in an ever-evolving health care system. Making sense of the many moving parts that accompany having a career in this field requires not only guidance and support, but also steady leadership. From the time Samuel Humes, MD, was named as the first president of the society in 1848, PAMED has consistently elected strong leaders who prioritize advocating for its members.
“Since the early beginnings of our country, the physicians of Pennsylvania have been recognized leaders in their fields,” says G. Alan Yeasted, MD, PAMED’s 13th District Board of Trustee. "The Pennsylvania Medical Society has represented physicians and patients in their efforts to improve the health of the Commonwealth.”
Over the past 40 years, with the dawn of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)and the introduction of Medicare, the Society has taken on an active role in the legislative matters that physicians are frequently faced with.
“One of the most important things we do is legislative advocacy, whether it is trying to get a new law passed or an old law revised, to better protect the patient and physician relationship,” shares PAMED President F. Wilson Jackson, MD. “Legislative activity is a huge value to the members and that’s what they are looking for, a voice to champion in Harrisburg regarding legislation.”
PAMED works with the Pennsylvania legislature to not only advocate for policy, but also to engage with them and encourage more diverse thinking. “I think that legislators come from a variety of backgrounds and may not have the medical expertise as they are thinking of solutions to problems. The Society informing and educating legislators on the medical perspective and the impact of some of their proposals is invaluable,” says Denise Johnson, MD, FACOG, FACHE, Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General.
During the malpractice crisis, physicians were leaving the state, retiring, and rethinking their careers in record numbers. PAMED was a significant component in finding traction and assisting members in working through the confusion.
“That’s a great example of where the Medical Society has been able to step in and have a voice. Because they have access to the legislature, the Governor's office, and the Department of Health, they were able to make a huge difference,” says Dr. Jackson.
As the pillars of health care structure and delivery have shifted, the Society has continued to adapt as well, helping to shape the current landscape.
“There has been a fair amount of consolidation in the marketplace in terms of health care delivery systems. In parallel to that consolidation has been the shift of independent, private medical practices becoming more often employed. That movement from private to academic or other employment models has gone above and beyond just physicians becoming part of an integrated health network system,” says Jackson. “PAMED has been extremely active in adapting to these changes and recognizing that as there are fewer and fewer independent physicians and adjusting based on the composition of the membership.”
Despite changes, the Society continues to evolve and remain relevant, providing members with the resources they need to practice the highest quality medicine. This includes offering a wide range of CME opportunities, allowing members to meet their state requirements, along with various educational modules and activities that encourage further learning.
“It has been my experience that PAMED truly advocates not only for us as physicians, but also for our patients. As member of the CME Collaboration Initiative, I have firsthand knowledge of PAMED’s institutional commitment to educating physicians through continuing medical education and providing expert resources and elevating the level of expertise to all of our members,” shares Julio A. Ramos, MD.
When looking towards future growth, the same themes that the Society was originally founded on still echo, including advancing the ethical practice of medicine through physician leadership, education, professional satisfaction, practice sustainability, and the public’s health.
“I’m hoping for communication and increasing awareness around the physician’s responsibility in terms of rising health care costs. We need to get a handle on that and physicians need to recognize that they need to be a part of that conversation,” says Jackson. “Educating physicians can help bring them to the table regarding how we contain these costs. It’s really about encouraging physicians to stay in the center of the leadership, engaged in our profession regardless of where their career is taking them.”
Cynthia DeMuth, MD, shares that she had the privilege of helping to formulate the new strategic plan and is looking forward to seeing those ideas develop further. Some of the targeted goals include growing membership, adapting to changes in both medicine and the marketplace, and continuing to prioritize physician wellness and mental health.
Says Dr. DeMuth, “PAMED brings physicians together to accomplish what we cannot do alone. As a trustee I have been very impressed by the amazing people on our board, in our leadership, and on the PAMED staff. They truly care about helping physicians improve their practice of medicine, advocate in the legislature for the best interests of physicians and patients and help physicians cope with the stress of our profession. I hope to have more physicians become members of our society and benefit from all it has to offer.”