Urology Times’ ninth annual State of the Specialty survey compiles compelling, and sometimes conflicting, data on urologists' sense of their practice and profession. Not surprisingly, the impact and role of government in the practice of medicine permeates nearly every reported concern. An astounding 87% of respondents perceived “increasing government regulations” with trepidation. Unfortunately, while nearly nine in ten urologists identify the problem, far fewer take steps to address it.
While there are principled reasons why some physicians won't/don't/can't actively engage, one must not allow cynicism to influence whether they respond to calls to action. All urologists must believe their letter, phone call, facility visit, or in-district meeting will make the difference.
Why? Because these activities work. They open doors and minds, affecting change every day. Individual and collective urologist engagement is required because your colleagues are writing, calling, and meeting with policy makers every day, explaining why they deserve a bigger piece of the shrinking health care funding pie.
What's more, today's crop of lawmakers are "listening" more than ever, for personal knowledge and political survival.
We're often reminded that elected officials come from a variety of backgrounds and depend on staff to gain understanding of an issue. When that staff person reads an email beginning with "As a urologist in your district…" they have documented evidence of physician opinion to report back to their bosses. Officials' own appreciation for the impact and role of government in the practice of medicine is also enhanced when they visit physicians' offices, departments, and facilities during recess and district work periods.
Beyond this thoughtful rationale for seeking constituent engagement, political realities drive elected representatives renewed respect for public opinion. The primary election defeat of (former) House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) stunned official Washington into recognizing they can no longer embody the sentiment of Civil War General William T. Sherman, who famously opined, “Vox populi, vox humbug.''
Interestingly, the State of the Specialty survey reports 65% of respondents say government influence in medicine factors into retirement considerations, yet more urologists expect to practice into their 70s (24%) than those who hope to retire in their early 60s (19%). So, it would seem that urologists must gear up to manage how laws and regulations impact their practice.
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