Saturday, March 30 is National Doctor’s Day, and the Tennessee Medical Association wants to acknowledge the physicians across the state for their contributions to their patients and their communities.
Much has changed since the first Doctors’ Day observance in 1933 and even since it became official in 1990.
We have had major medical breakthroughs and technological advances. The U.S. healthcare system now represents more than 18% of our nation’s gross domestic product, and all stakeholders – from government agencies to insurance companies to technology innovators – are continually trying to figure out how to achieve the best possible care at the lowest possible cost.
What hasn’t changed is that physicians are still on the front lines every day, leading the healthcare delivery teams that treat patients and their families when they are sick or injured and counseling patients on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
I became a surgeon because I wanted to give patients immediate relief from abdominal pain, and the sense of purpose that first inspired me to enroll in medical school still drives me in practice 20 years after I completed my residency training.
Most of the other doctors I know in TMA and through my professional network similarly consider our profession less of a job and more of a calling. The hours are long, the work is stressful and doctors often overextend ourselves trying to balance our professional and personal lives. Fortunately, there is an increasing awareness of how this overextension leads to alarming rates of physician burnout, and the medical community is doing more to help our colleagues avoid or manage substance abuse, disruptive behaviors and even suicide.
We recognize our privilege in serving others, and our unique responsibility to affect policies, rules and regulations through advocacy organizations like TMA. Our collective voice helps improve healthcare in Tennessee, and is often the only thing keeping government entities and insurance companies from implementing policies that adversely affect us and our patients.
We also know that good healthcare directly affects a community’s economic status; Tennessee’s physicians create more than 175,000 jobs and generate $29.1 billion in economic activity, according to a 2018 report released by TMA and the American Medical Association.
So, please take a few minutes to say “thank you” to the physicians in your community. Visit an office. Make a phone call. Send a card or an email.
It just might make your doctor’s day.
Matthew L. Mancini, MD, FACS is a general surgeon in Knoxville and 2018-2019 President of the Tennessee Medical Association.tnmed.org