Editorials from the Executive Medical Director
One of the buzzwords in medicine today is diversity. I really like the definition of diversity on the Queensborough Community College site. Diversity means understanding that each individual is unique and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. Medicine is going through changes with a major emphasis on diversity, and with that, so is allergy. Gone are the days when medicine was thought of as a profession of white males, with nurses being all female. In 2018, for the first time, more than half of the applicants and enrollees in U.S.
Bill Finerfrock, the College’s lobbyist in Washington, DC, sent me a survey that had just been published by The Physicians Foundation. I had never heard of this group. They list themselves as a national, not-for-profit grant-making organization dedicated to advancing the work of practicing physicians and to improving the quality of health care for all Americans. No doubt their mission complements the College’s mission. They were founded in 2003 through the settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by physicians and state medical associations against private third-party payers. Their Board of Directors is comprised of physician and medical society leaders from around the country. One of their research initiatives has been conducting a nationwide survey every two years called Survey of America’s Physicians.
With the average age of the board-certified allergist in their 50s, many of us are thinking about retirement. But even allergy Fellows-in-Training need to make sure they have a secure retirement plan in place. It is never too early to start saving for your golden years. Before you know it, you have been practicing allergy for 25 or 30 years, and it is time to retire. All of us know allergists – in fact, you may be one of them – who will practice until the day they drag your cold body out of your office. But for most, retirement is the next step in a full life.
I have had a great career in allergy. It would not surprise me if just about every board-certified allergist in their sixties and seventies would agree that it has been a very rewarding field, both in terms of helping patients and financially. But what about the newly-minted allergists just starting their profession, or allergists in the middle of their careers – will they be able to say the same thing when they near retirement?
For most allergists, we are busy enough—in fact, too busy, with more and more patients, time on the EHR and dealing with insurance companies. So why would I waste your time writing about side gigs for allergists? I can think of a few reasons. One, not every allergist may be as “booked” as they would like to be and even if fully booked, with the continued decrease in reimbursement, there may be the need for more income. Two, some allergists might like to cut back on patient care but don’t want to see a loss of income. Third, you may want to branch out beyond patient care. You want to use your knowledge and get paid for it. If you are an employed allergist getting a W-2, then a side gig with 1099 income may have some great tax advantages for deductions and increased retirement savings.
As EMD of the College, I usually don’t take up controversial topics in this column. In fact, the College walks a fine line when we are approached to sign off on letters promoting a particular opinion on a health care issue. So why do I want to sound off on one of the most controversial issues facing our country, which no doubt will occupy our newsfeeds throughout the 2020 elections? Because this is an editorial column, where I can give my opinion. Before I start, let me say that this is my opinion alone and is NOT the opinion of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, its officers or its staff.
As you may know, the American Board of Allergy and Immunology is overseen by a parent organization, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Presently there are 24 boards under this organization. Their mission is to serve the public and the medical profession by improving the quality of health care by setting professional standards for lifelong certification in partnership with member boards. Recently, the ABMS published a draft document to address the issues associated with Maintenance of Certification (MOC) for physicians in the U.S., Continuing Board Certification, Vision for the Future. You might be asking, “Was this document needed in the first place?”
It’s that time of year when we see all the stories flooding the news and social media about making our New Year’s resolutions. You know, the same ones we see every year - exercise more, lose weight, eat right, etc. We may try to keep these promises, but usually by Jan. 31 they are long forgotten.
Are there specific resolutions that we as allergists should ponder for 2019? I put together some that you could consider for the new year.
It seems like every day there is an article in the news about social media and especially Facebook. Issues related to Facebook include knowing more about you than you think, selling your data, affecting you mentally by making you feel you are not as cool as some of your friends and even leading to addiction to the site. And it’s hard to ignore the spread of misinformation and fake news as well as private information being hacked, which should disturb all of us. With all these fears about Facebook, why do so many of us still use it? I can think of a few great examples of the good that Facebook can do.
With the College’s Annual Scientific Meeting, Nov. 15-19 in Seattle, just around the corner, I thought I would give you a sneak peek of my talk, “The Path from Burnout to Wellness.” It’s part of a session with Mark O’Halloran, MD, FACAAI, who will update attendees on burnout with Gailen Marshall Jr., MD. PhD, FACAAI, and Megan Shepherd, MD, FACAAI acting as moderators and taking part in a panel discussion on the topic.