In Urology Times’ ninth annual State of the Specialty survey, 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.
Based on a partnership with Urology Times, articles from the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU) provide updates on legislative processes and issues affecting urologists. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact the AACU government affairs office at 847-517-1050 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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.
To equip yourselves for this vital task, look no further than the professional organizations you deem deserving of your support. The AACU, for one, deploys resources that empower urologists to advocate for their patients, practice, and profession. These tools include targeted calls to action, issue briefs, and in-person and online training.
One such in-person event, the 10th Annual Urology Joint Advocacy Conference, is scheduled for March 9-10, 2015. The AACU also launched a JAC365 campaign that promotes year-round engagement with federal officials. Two unique features facilitate the scheduling of an in-district meeting and/or facility visit.
While this may seem overwhelming, urologists should consider the words of Nobel laureate Thomas Mann, who advised, "Opinions," such as those expressed in the State of the Specialty survey, "cannot survive if one has no chance to fight for them."
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