Millennial urologists display a political awakening

March 16, 2017

Millennial urologists appear to have developed strong opinions on health policy as reflected by their recent social media activity, observes urologist Alan L. Kaplan, MD.

Alan L. Kaplan, MDDr. Kaplan 

Yes, you read the headline right. I said “millennial urologists.” It’s a thing; let’s proceed.

In an effort to understand “the other side,” I have spent my fellowship year immersed in health system operations and administration. During this cross-pollinating education, I have astutely ascertained that physicians and hospital administrators do not always see eye to eye. So when the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Hospital Association (AHA) both came out in opposition to the GOP’s proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), it was thought provoking at the very least.

I have no interest in partisan commentary here, and the merit of the AMA/AHA opposition is immaterial. What I did find noteworthy, however, was my millennial colleagues’ atypically vociferous response to the proposed health care bill. Since the AHCA was introduced, my online network of millennial urologists has been abuzz with commentary. Through email listservs, text messages, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages (I don’t do Instagram), I have been inundated this past week with peers’ electronic health policy musings. 

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A junior faculty in Atlanta posted a breakdown of the AHCA’s expected economic impact by socioeconomic status. A health services research fellow in Los Angeles posted an article proposing a California-led individual mandate. A colleague in Michigan provided an analysis of the expected effect on the MACRA legislation of 2015. And a friend in residency posted a video of Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s (D-MA) floor speech aimed at House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Next: Observation limitations

 

One limitation of these observations is that my background in health services research may lead to sampling bias; another is that Mark Zuckerberg may be curating my Facebook page ad nauseam. So perhaps these social media posts are not representative of the entire millennial urologic community. However, the frequency of these posts in the wake of current uncertainty in health care is nonetheless hypothesis generating.

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The millennial generation has been criticized for its self-centeredness, short attention spans, and need for immediate gratification. None of these qualities portend meaningful future engagement in health policy. But there is talk of a political awakening among the millennial generation and it may very well manifest in the urologic space. That awakening may be an important opportunity to engage young urologists in the health policy realm-traditionally favored by the proverbial gray-hairs.

I would challenge senior partners and senior faculty to reach out to your younger colleagues, invite them to a local society meeting, or contact your elected officials as a group to ensure your collective voice is heard. Likewise, millennial urologists should understand that social media posts do not an activist make. Engaging as a physician in the political process happens offline, in representatives’ offices and in loco-regional societies. But don’t worry-you can still use your smartphone to call or email your representative.

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