By Abby Van Voorhees, MD, December 01, 2015
December is the time of the year where I am most aware of how fortunate I am. As my spouse and I get ready for the holidays one of the tasks on our to-do list is to donate to our preferred charities. Sometimes it feels like just one more thing to do in the midst of a busy time. We do prioritize it though; the list includes all sorts of causes that are meaningful to us. A few new ones get added and a few deleted, but mostly we like what we like and try to support them generously. We consider ourselves lucky that we can do this, and we prefer to think about it as the holidays approach. It serves as a balance to what feels like an unending emphasis on material needs this time of the year.
In that spirit we share with you this month our piece on serving the underserved. We all know why this is an issue. From poor reimbursement to too many last-minute cancellations, there are lots of reasons why this population may not be regularly seen in our practices. We interviewed our colleagues who have figured out ways to handle the load despite the hassles and share their ideas with you. From using NPs and PAs to telemedicine, from more open scheduling practices to free clinic service, each embraces a slightly different approach, but together they address the issue. Karen Edison sums this up best in our piece when she says “We should look at our practice as a covenant — that we made a promise to be doctors and because of that we made a promise to heal the sick. That’s not a promise to heal the sick only if they can pay handsomely.” We share this piece with you to give those not involved in these efforts an opportunity to learn how you can do so. For those who are already doing so, we applaud you and would love to learn of your efforts. At the very least, keep track of them for yourself and take stock of them as you enter this time of year. Sort of like those donations — it just feels good.
We write this month as well about the ILDS. What is that? Most dermatologists are unaware of the International League of Dermatological Societies, so we figured we’d write about it. While some of its efforts are more mundane, like developing coding systems for worldwide use (did you know we were one of the last countries to adopt ICD-10 and that they are already working on ICD-11?) or hosting the World Congresses every few years, other efforts are really cool such as developing guidelines of care for rare diseases. Often these focus on diseases seen in the tropics and underdeveloped nations; given limited resources and a lack of trained dermatologists these guidelines can make a huge impact. I’m glad to know that as a member of the AAD I’m a part of this bigger organization doing important work which we can celebrate this time of the year.
So as you run out to bag that last gift on your list consider how your practice can serve the poor. It is a gift to yourself. I for one prefer it to a grill alert talking remote thermometer for my BBQ, which in case you didn’t know is one of the hot new gifts for 2016. Not that I haven’t burned my share of cooking endeavors.
Enjoy your reading.