Health policy is in evolution, and the landscape is changing. More physicians coming out of residency are taking employment, academic, or government positions, and some say that groups of three or fewer doctors are dead. How does that impact AUA membership and member involvement in advocacy?
I don’t think hospital employment changes the stripes of the tiger. Urologists are viewed by hospital systems and other employers as a very bright group of surgical subspecialists who are very mature, easy to work with, and have good financial sense. But I honestly don’t believe we’ll see a huge migration away from AUA membership. So many people value that membership. Since 1902, the AUA has been physician run and physician led, we have been advocates for our constituents, and we will continue to be.
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Now, we have turned a little bit. We do more now for practices, which I think is very important. The AUA Coding Hotline, for example, is very important, and coders call the hotline regularly for help. We’ve tried to change with the shifting tides and make sure we’re supporting practices as well as individuals.
In any organization, you have a limited amount of manpower, resources, and finances. How do you see the AUA balancing health policy, education, and research? Can we do all of them?
Yes, we can do them all. But the real question is, how do we do it with a similar amount of resources for each? The answer is, you don’t. Some are going to be cost centers and others are profit centers. We realize, for example, research will never be a profit center for us. But if you ask membership how important research is, most everyone will say it is extremely important and it’s how we end up taking innovation from the bench to the bedside. We’ll make a profit on some things, and we’ll take a loss on others. We have to make sure we weigh the benefits to the overall membership. It’s a very delicate balancing act.
Many members are concerned about MOC and whether they can fulfill the requirements, and some question the value of certifying when they’re near the end of their careers. What is the AUA doing to support that?
In February, I attended the most recent American Board of Urology (ABU)/AUA leadership meeting in Dallas, and I thought it was outstanding. The ABU and AUA have different missions, but I was encouraged that both organizations see it as very important to make MOC a less arduous process for AUA members but still protect that certificate. Every diplomate will tell you that the certificate is something very important to them. It protects your practice.
I think the leadership talks and the open lines of communication between the ABU and AUA are very important. Certification can’t be done otherwise. The educational products from the AUA are very important in helping the ABU meet the expectations not only for knowledge assessment but also for CME and the rest of continuing accreditation.
It sounds like you’re saying board certification is not an economic policy but a quality process.
That’s absolutely right. We just want to make it the least arduous process possible for the diplomate.