America looks to AMA for leadership
■ A message to all physicians from the chair of the AMA Board of Trustees, Duane M. Cady, MD.
By Duane M. Cady, MD — is a general surgeon who was in private practice for 35 years in Syracuse, N.Y. He served as chair of the AMA Board of Trustees during 2005-06. Posted Nov. 7, 2005.
Medicine's response to the recent hurricanes -- and to disasters of every kind, for that matter -- reminds me again of the character of the profession and the leadership of physicians.
So many of you volunteered to assist in the wake of Katrina and Rita that the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services had to stop accepting applications.
More than 33,000 medical professionals and relief personnel registered with HHS.
AMA posted information resources on our home page and other Web pages, resources that draw about 4 million page views per week.
Add in our 88,000-member eVoice audience, e-mail blasts to the Federation of Medicine, print ads, countless responses to media inquiries, and requests for interviews and appearances, and the sum is an impressive response.
We partnered with government, pharmacy, Medicaid and benefit managers in Louisiana and Mississippi to launch a site to help displaced patients and their physicians access their prescription drug records (link).
Licensed physicians who want to treat new patients can simply call 800-AMA-3211 to gain access to the Katrina Health network.
AMA Trustee Robert Wah, MD, worked with former AMA Student Trustee David Brailer, MD, PhD, now with HHS, to develop the Katrina Health network in just a few weeks.
Likewise, psychiatrists are helping patients who need mental health services, using the American Psychiatric Assn.'s Web site.
It's been a group effort, too. The AMA Alliance is helping evacuees and physician families displaced by the storm through its Adopt a Hurricane Victim program (link). Dozens of physician families have opened their homes.
Also, we're lobbying Congress for more federal funds to rebuild the health care infrastructure (link).
After all, patients who are moving back to their communities need a strong foundation of doctors, clinics and hospitals in place to serve them. There are a number of unfamiliar dangers that they'll encounter as they rebuild homes and businesses.
In addition, the AMA has contributed $100,000 to five medical associations in Louisiana and Mississippi, and another $100,000 to the AMA Foundation's newly established Health Care Recovery Fund. It will provide grants to help physicians rebuild their medical practices in the wake of the hurricanes and, in the future, to physicians affected by future man-made or natural disasters.
One estimate indicated that more than 6,000 physicians had been displaced by the hurricanes, many losing virtually everything. I hope you join me in donating. A printable donation form is available online (link). Please fill one out and mail it in. Though the grants won't cover the entire costs of re-establishing a practice, they are a start. The more the Foundation gets, the larger the grants can be in the future.
And the AMA Board of Trustees voted two relief measures of its own -- waiving 2006 AMA dues and paying the 2006 state medical society dues for physicians in the affected areas of Louisiana and Mississippi.
These resources are important, but no less necessary are the intellectual tools needed to deal with disaster. The AMA's Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response has already trained 14,000 health care workers.
In all of this activity, and wherever I go these days, I'm struck by the growing sentiment, the growing recognition by the public of AMA leadership.
Don't get me wrong. We've always enjoyed national trust and confidence. But physician leadership and accelerated advertising and promotion efforts are building on that base.
There's an old Welsh proverb that says, in effect, "To be a leader, be a bridge." A more contemporary source, management guru Peter Drucker, put it this way: "Leadership is not a magnetic personality. That can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not making friends and influencing people. That is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, raising a person's performance to a higher standard, building a personality beyond its normal limitations."
Leadership is example, first and foremost. It ignores the clock and operates ceaselessly. Leadership is a force of nature, molding and shaping attitudes and beliefs, motivating and taking active part in life and living.
Leadership finds alternatives, finding "both" with "either-or" situations.
Leadership is more "Together we are stronger" than "My way or the highway." Leadership binds up wounds, ignites enthusiasm, and commits random acts of kindness -- drive-by blessings, if you will.
Most of all, leadership comes from the heart. The essence of leadership is caring for others as much or more than one's self. Leadership, in short, is the spirit of medicine.
And no better example can be found than in medicine's recent response to the aftermath of hurricanes in the Gulf states. For ourselves, and for those affected by the storms, it showed us again that "Together, we are stronger."
Duane M. Cady, MD is a general surgeon who was in private practice for 35 years in Syracuse, N.Y. He served as chair of the AMA Board of Trustees during 2005-06.