February 2022 Executive Director’s Message
Since August when I began my tenure as HMA executive director, I have had scores of conversations with individual physicians, committees of physicians, healthcare professionals, government, and community leaders, both in Hawaii and on the continent. Two themes arise again and again, albeit in different forms.
First, there is universal valuing of physicians, both for the profession and for their leadership role in healthcare and medicine. Now, the cynics might observe that one wouldn’t expect people to ditz physicians to my face given my role. But my experience has been more than an act of the aloha spirit. People of all stripes trust the physicians with their healthcare. To be sure there is wide variation around the precise roles of other healthcare professionals, insurance companies, and the government. Nonetheless, there remains a very high regard for the specialized education, training, and experience, that sets physicians apart, and upon which public health does depend.
The second major theme is from physicians themselves and those who work closely with them. Many physicians – regardless of age, gender, race, or ethnicity – feel overwhelmed and devalued in the current system and climate of healthcare. Physicians are not alone in these feelings, as recent studies have reported. But since physicians carry the ultimate responsibility if something goes wrong – whether in a treatment, procedure, or surgery – physicians understandably feel the weight of their “office.” The average patient is unaware of the paperwork, permissions, approvals, and oversight to which physicians are subject.
As medical societies, like HMA, evolve, supporting physicians and communicating the community’s respect for physicians will become increasingly important if our community expects to attract and retain the outstanding physicians our communities need and deserve.