A little over two weeks ago, ACAAI held its annual Leadership Summit. As far as I am concerned, it is the most important activity of the College each year. You may be asking, “Why not the Annual Meeting, the Practice Management webinars and tools, or other aspects of the College?” So why do I think the Leadership Summit is the most important?
If we don’t train the future leaders in allergy to represent our specialty and empower them in the management of health care, we as physicians will continue to lose more control of medicine. In the long run, I am afraid this will reduce our importance and lead to poorer care for our patients. We must have a seat at the table. Many of you who work in academics, large clinics, and hospital settings realize that the nonphysician MBAs who are part of the management of health care systems don’t understand patient care and the needs of physicians like we do. Yes, we need “bean counters,” but they should not have control of health care.
As you may know, I am a fan of podcasts. (The College has a great one in AllergyTalk, by the way). One of my favorites is the “The White Coat Investor” by Dr. Jim Dahle, a practicing emergency physician in Utah, who saw the need for financial literacy for physicians. Along with his podcasts, books and blogs, he has developed courses and seminars so that “physicians and other high-income professionals stop doing dumb things with their money.” On podcast episode 197, the subject was “The Value of Physician Leadership.” Dr. Dahle interviewed Brent Lacey, MD, a gastroenterologist, who blogs at thescopeofpractice.com. Dr. Lacey talks about the need for physicians to take control of their practices and develop leadership skills. During the podcast, he made the case for why physicians should become leaders:
“It really is important. And not only that, I would say that it’s critical. I’m reminded of something that John Adams said of government. And I think this is true of business more generally. He said, ‘Public business must always be done by somebody. If wise men decline it, others will not. If honest men refuse it, others will not.’ I think we see that. So, why is it important? I would say two things. First, it’s good for our patients. When you look at the national statistics, you’ll see hospitals that are run by physicians are safer. They have better customer service. And as a matter of fact, they’re actually more profitable. And I think that’s because we as physicians know what we need to run a successful healthcare delivery service for our patients. I mean, we know what it takes to care for our patients. So, I think we owe it to our patients to be leaders in our field.
The second thing is that burnout is a real and ever-growing threat. And if you look at it, the root causes of burnout really aren’t the number of hours worked or the reimbursement rate. Not really. I mean, if you look at polls and surveys, what you see is that physicians feel burned out when they don’t feel supported by their leadership, when they don’t feel appreciated, and, most importantly, when they don’t feel like they’re getting what they need to take care of their patients. So, like I said, we know what it takes to care for our patients. And I think that the best way for us to change the system is to participate in it and then lead it.”
Dr. Lacey made clear it that leaders are not born, they are made. That’s why the College’s annual Leadership Summit is key to ensuring our tomorrow. Last month, the 26 young allergists who participated in our Summit were taught skills that they can use in their practices, the academic setting, and in large clinics today. Most importantly, these young men and women are the future of the College. If our specialty is to grow and prosper, we must have members with the abilities and talents to move us forward. The good news is that the latest group of attendees at the Leadership Summit, like the others before them, leave me with the feeling that our specialty is in good hands.