By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief, The DPC Journal/Host, The DocPreneur Leadership Podcast
Politics and the Physician.
Two words some people applaud. Others, possibly your colleagues or yourself, just shake your head and move on.
I get it.
This is a subject area in DPC that we’ve actually written about quite frequently over the years.
As you know, most DPC Physicians over the past four to seven years are no stranger to what’s happening in national politics. There have been multiple trips to Washington, multiple groups now organized which are specific to DPC and hundreds, if not thousands of tweets and even pages and laws written about DPC in several states impacting local and national politics. Most notably, those DPC Doctors involved we’ve also observed over the many years here at The DPC Journal are typically those in their mid 30’s thru mid 50’s.
However, the topic we’re here to discuss goes a little deeper and wider than just DPC.
If you spend any amount of time with a Physician, you know as well as I do that ‘you care about your Patients, deeply.’
There are certain subject areas you want to see change that can and could impact your community, but you know it takes grit, sweat, time and money, most of all money (am I right?) to get some of these things accomplished.
All qualities you just don’t have time to focus on right now.
From the other side of the exam room
Patients have noted in thousands of surveys we’ve received over the years here at The DPC Journal, that they want their Doctor and his or her voice to be heard in their local politics. They want their Doctor to talk about such topics as: Surprise Medical Bill Legislation; Rural healthcare access; Expansion of Telehealth Laws; CBD Research and so much more.
So while DPC in practice is great, from the other side of the exam room, the enthusiasm from the Patient also wants more. If we simply ignore these subject areas, we do a disservice to our communities and your Patients.
If you’ve spent any time reading our news articles at The DPC Journal or any of our other sister publications or podcast interviews with DPC Physicians, you’ve noticed that even though many cities across the country are embracing DPC, many Doctors are not and most notably, persuading new Patients to join is a constant struggle. Herein enter, the DPC 2B or Employer-DPC contracts.
If you were to analyze all of the reasons why certain people, employers, political law makers, Physicians and communities do what they can to prevent Doctors from expanding free market healthcare delivery models, like DPC, you would see that most are because of the lack of strength of local Physician voices that are involved in politics.
These voices are not heard over all of the others because many of the medical societies, associations and groups representing Physicians at-large today have chosen to focus on changing a lot of issues, rather than focusing on just a few key issues. What those few issues might be are usually determined by the Physician or executive members of those groups, associations or societies and typically will benefit the Physician’s, rather than what, who or why the Physician may have initially joined the group for in the first place.
You may have joined a state-wide Physician group or association because you wanted to have a voice where this group was headed. You may have really felt passionate about one issue or another and that’s what you wanted to see impact your community and ultimately, your Patients.
Your reasons for joining were crystalized then. Years and years and potentially hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in membership dues later, little momentum, a tiny celebration here or there and the same membership platitudes exist.
So how can Physician’s really get involved in politics? How can you really ensure your voice is heard? I wish there was a simple answer for you. The fact of the matter is, you have a business, you have a medical practice and you have Patients that need you. You don’t have time to fight the good fight. You don’t have the money or time to allocate to make the change necessary. So the circle continues and many of your Patients and communities are financially being crushed by surprise medical bills and the like. Too often, Doctors who want to get involved in politics think that someday someone will call them and ask them to help. This isn’t how it works. The best way to get involved in politics is to get out there and get started, but some say ‘keep your attention local.’
How Physicians Can Get Involved In Local Politics
Start Reading and Educating Yourself on Local Healthcare Issues
Read your local paper(s) and surrounding city newspapers, and attend some of those boring town hall meetings. You just might learn something.
Go to Some Meetings. Start with Just One.
“I know a guy …”
Sometimes learning about what’s happening in your local community starts with a question. Maybe it’s you taking a local colleague out for lunch and saying “I know you’re involved in a little political stuff around our city, how’s that going?”
You can also learn from existing politicians. Maybe you even have one as a Patient.
“The best way to get involved in local politics is to get know your local party leaders and candidates, as well as other activists and go to your city or county council meetings,” said one Physician in Atlanta, GA we spoke to. “These meetings are usually open to the public, and provide a great opportunity for you to not only get to know other people, but to learn about the issues facing your local community.”
Join A DPC Group, Association, Alliance or Society
In DPC right now, there’s several to choose from. They have insightful voices and sometimes, similar and differing opinions. That’s okay. The important part is you evaluate what voice represents your perspective and viewpoints. If you’re simply a paying member participant and don’t plan to be involved, then maybe joining a group isn’t where you should be spending your money, time or attention. These groups often need leaders, not readers. Not only will you help other DPC Physicians, you’ll maybe be able to share a single voice on DPC-specific issues with your local and national politicians.
Get Other DPC Physicians and DPC Practices Involved
Get other people involved. But please, don’t be salesy. There’s nothing worse than being strong-armed or persuaded to join a medical association or group and then a year or two later, find that your money, dues and time could’ve been spent better elsewhere. All too often, DPC is evangelistic. That’s okay, but not everyone shares your views. Once you start to get involved in politics, encourage other DPC practice owners to get involved too, but gently. By building your own network of committed DPC colleagues in your area, you can provide invaluable education about DPC to your local or national narrative.
If you truly want to get involved in politics, get local.
Stay open-minded as well. Not everyone agrees, understands or has the time to learn about DPC right now. That’s okay. Evangelistic views often are passionate, but please, be kind with your words and patient with others who simply don’t share your views.
Find things you’re passionate about that have bothered you for a long time that maybe are impacting your Patients. The time to start is today, tomorrow and next week. Open your eyes and ears. Make informed decisions before you start paying your dues. Stay involved about issues too. That’s what your patients really want. Imagine if you were part of the collective Physician-body and voices in your state capital doing something FOR YOUR PATIENTS about those surprise medical bills, or legislation about rural healthcare access or even Alzheimer’s research. That’s moving the needle for your patients, not a board of directors you thought initially represented your most concerning issue(s).
Are you already involved in politics in your community? We’d love to hear any tips you can share.