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LMS President’s Message, January 2019

LMS Presidential Transition
Charles L. Papp, MD

I am excited to be the LMS president for 2019 and I want to thank all the members of the LMS for giving me the opportunity. I have been in practice in Lexington for almost 30 years and I consider this one of my greatest honors. I also recognize that it is now one of my greatest responsibilities.

I am standing on the shoulders of all those who have worked so hard before me. The Lexington Medical Society has a rich history reaching back over two hundred years to 1799. Since its founding, it has been a catalyst in helping physicians achieve great successes and meet challenging difficulties. As Central Kentucky physicians continue to encounter new challenges and opportunities the medical society remains fully committed to providing physicians resources as well as contributing to the health of our community.  Let me take a moment to share what is now in place and available due to the hard work and dedication of my predecessors.

As some may be aware the society is now in the final year of its second three-year plan. This current three-year plan was developed by Dr. Robert Granacher and a strategic planning committee in 2016 and has been built on last year by Dr. Tran and the members of the executive committee. The five goals set for this strategic plan have turned out to be very timely and well received.

The first goal is physician wellness. We are all aware of the stresses and difficulties now associated with medical practice. We are all feeling pulled from so many directions. For some, this can seem like an insurmountable challenge. The Physician Wellness Program was developed to address this need. The Physician Wellness Program is about to start its fourth year offering free counseling sessions provided by a respected group of clinical psychologists. The service is confidential and paid for by the LMS. The service has been expanded to include University of Kentucky residents and fellows. The challenges of medicine can be great and sometimes can seem overwhelming. Through the Physician Wellness Program, we want to offer help.

The second goal is to provide support for early career physicians and medical students. Career Chats, a very popular dinner meeting, will again be held this year. This a chance for medical students to hear the truth about the various specialties of medicine from the physicians who practice them. Students are free to bring those tough questions that can help guide them in their career choices. The LMS Mentor Program is another opportunity that matches third year medical students with practicing physicians.

The third goal is improving community health. The physicians of LMS have a long history of building and supporting programs and institutions that advance the wellbeing and health of the community including as mentioned the founding of the first medical school in the frontier of Kentucky, the establishment of the Kentucky Blood Center,and the founding of Surgery on Sunday. We have members serving on theLexington-Fayette County Board of Health including our president-elect Mamata Majmundar. We have also supported the Ronald McDonald House, the Baby Health Service, and Camp Horsin’ Around.

Lastly, I would like to talk about the fourth and fifth goals of physician leadership and legislative advocacy together. Physicians are members of an essential, critically important, and highly trusted profession. Our profession is constantly being analyzed, criticized, updated and changed by just about everyone except physicians. To a large degree this is our own fault. It is almost proverbial that physicians invest very little time and resources in participating in the politics of medicine and this is dangerous. Mark Twain once said, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” Changes, mandates and rules that affect our practices and patients are going to be made with us or without us. We need a few of us to take on the mantle of leadership and need all of us to stay updated and involved. We absolutely can no longer keep our heads in the sand hoping the right thing will get done.

The society is dedicated to helping any who are aspiring to leadership or even just wanting to get a better handle on the issues. The LMS has been sponsoring Leadership of the Business of Medicine forums over the last few years and the next one is on healthcare finance February 23. I would strongly encourage everyone to consider these Leadership of the Business of Medicine lectures as they are made available. They take up only a few hours on a Saturday morning at the Gatton College of Business and Economics at UK and are taught by well credentialed professors who are experts in their fields. Also, the Woman Physician Leadership Series will be March 19. Each year this program provides an opportunity for women physicians to meet and hear a presentation by a prominent woman leader. In addition, the LMS assists the KMA in funding the Kentucky Physician Leadership Institute. This program involves four two-day overnight sessions dealing with personal and business leadership as well as leadership in advocacy and health care issues.

As to the political arena, the KMA will again be sponsoring the Physicians Day at the Capitol February 21. This is a chance for all of us to get involved by visiting legislators in their offices, attending legislative committee meetings and sharing our views with those who will be writing and voting on bills that will affect our practices and patients.

This year I will be forming a legislative task force to stay on top of developing legislation and communicate legislative issues to members so that we all can stay on top of and be involved with what goes on in Frankfort. This task force will also develop a list of physicians who would be willing to give expert testimony regarding healthcare related bills as needed.

We are now entering 2019 and the challenges we face are great.  As a member of a private practice I am fully aware of the pressures brought by governmental and insurance mandates and regulations, an aggressive malpractice environment, EHR and IT headaches, and pharmaceutical costs. It is increasing difficult to properly care patients, stay up to date with my specialty, find time for my family and make payroll. I know I am not alone in these struggles. Others of you have the stresses that come with being an employed physician such as contract negotiations and performance goals. We all want to do what we were trained to do, do it well, and enjoy doing it. Unfortunately, we find ourselves pulled thin by forces that seem uninformed at best and malignant at worst. The temptation is we give up and resign ourselves to the decisions and plans of others. This we must not do. The collective input and influence of physicians is essential to the wellbeing of our patients as well as ourselves. This is where the LMS can be a powerful ally if we only take advantage of it. It is like a tool box. It is full ofwonderful things designed to make our task easier. The only thing is it isn’t much good if it is never opened.

LeBron James had it right when he said, “I am going to use all my tools, my God given ability, and make the best life I can with it.” The LMS mission statement states, “The Lexington Medical Society is the principal voice and resource for Central Kentucky physicians to enhance their professional lives and improve the health of the community.” Look around you. I challenge you to find as dedicated an ally providing resources and assistance to you and your professional needs and challenges. We all find it easy to complain, but here is a resource that can help.  We must be more involved. There is far too much at stake. The LMS wants to foster and grow the involvement of its members. Let’s take advantage of these opportunities, give the LMS office a call (859 278-0569), check the website out (lexingtondoctors.org), send me an email (pappnotes@yahoo.com), above all get involved. Let’s not just let things happen, let’s help make things happen.

Charles L. Papp, MD