By Brett Coldiron, MD, June 02, 2014
You probably read a lot about what your Academy is doing to keep dermatology viable as a specialty — from me, from my predecessor, and from our CEO.
It’s natural, as a dues-paying member of an organization, to ask what it’s doing for you. You want to know that we’re helping you to meet your educational needs, helping ensure that the specialty is well-perceived by the public, and helping to ensure that policymakers know the value you bring to the health care system.
We are doing those things. But the Academy can’t do everything it needs to do without your help. I saw this early in my career, and I’ve been involved as an advocate for dermatology ever since.
I won’t lie — being an advocate can be a big time commitment. I’d argue that it’s an investment in yourself; I’d also argue that it’s fun! But as a busy dermatologist, perhaps with a family to raise, you may be looking for simpler ways to help than serving in office. So, below, I’ve listed several options. Consider them my way of helping you to help the Academy to help you.
- Join the AMA. The more of you who are members of the AMA, the more dermatologists who can serve in the AMA House of Delegates, the relative value scale update committee, and the CPT coding committee. This is where policy decisions are made. You may not agree with the AMA about everything; I know I don’t. But it remains the voice of medicine that gets heard by the government and the public, and increasing the dermatology membership is one of the best ways for us to be heard.
- Participate in advocacy efforts at the local, state, and national levels. Yes, this includes SkinPAC. It also includes a lot more. Write to your senators and representatives, especially when the AADA issues a call to action. The Dermatology Advocacy Network, at www.aad.org/dan, can help you contact them, as well as your state legislators, and help you catch up on our latest advocacy priorities.
- Join and participate in your state dermatology society. More and more of our advocacy priorities are popping up at the state level; the more of you who are part of your state societies, the better equipped they will be to address state-level issues in tandem with the AADA.
- Help keep the AADA informed. Our Grassroots Advocacy Workgroup helps gather information from around the country through dermatologists like you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- Be active in your county or state medical society. These are great places to make sure dermatology is visible in the larger medical community. They’re a great training ground if you want a future in medical leadership, whether in the Academy or another organization. They are always looking for new members to go to the annual state convention. And they’re a great place to keep abreast of local developments related to alternative payment models, which are playing out differently depending on where you are. Again, helping the specialty helps you, too.
- On a related note: Take actions that improve the specialty’s perception among doctors. Take hospital call, even though it is time-consuming. Be seen while you are there. Carve out dedicated appointments for rapid referrals to ensure that when a primary calls with a patient who really needs to be seen right away, you can accommodate the request. And volunteer. It’s good for the specialty because others see you being generous. It also happens to be good for the soul — once again, helping dermatology helps you.
It’s quite a list, I know. Pick the things that resonate most with you (the first should be SkinPAC) and get started helping dermatology. It’s like betting on yourself — and I’m willing to bet that you’ll enjoy it enough that pretty soon you’ll want to pick another, and then another. I thank you in advance for what you’ll do to help the specialty we love.