Every Day is a Winding Road
(17.06.13) It is a pleasure to be back at my professional association home, the American Medical Association (AMA) annual meeting here in Chicago. It was a privilege Saturday (June 15) to hear my friend, Jeremy Lazarus, MD, AMA President address the AMA House of Delegates Saturday, June 15 and report on his year as president.
Dr. Lazarus, a psychiatrist from Colorado, began his remarks by saying: “This is a bittersweet moment. I’ve long been involved in organized medicine – most of it associated with the AMA, and I want you all to know I have truly loved serving this past year as your president.”
He went on recount observations from the year including:
- The whims of Washington politics and the world’s random savagery
- The US Supreme Court ruling that the personal mandate to have insurance provided in health system legislation (March 2010, the Affordable Care Act) was constitutional, assuring that implementation of this law can go forward
- The AMA’s work in support implementation of the Affordable Care Act
- Work with the National conference of Insurance Legislators to cement hard-fought gains in reducing regulatory burdens on physicians
- Episodes of violence in Colorado, Connecticut and Massachusetts which brought to the forefront concerns about gun violence and problems with our mental health system countered by concerns about a potential backlash against mental health patients
- New regulations providing for reporting by pharmaceutical, medical device and other industries of gifts made to physicians
- The importance for the future of physician-led integrated practices working to keep patients healthy
- The ruling just this week by the U.S. Supreme Court that individual physicians can joint together to fight unfair business practices of large insurance companies
- The ruling, also this week, by the Supreme Court affirming the AMA position opposing patents on the human genome, assuring that insights into human DNA will remain freely accessible
Dr. Lazarus went on to tell how: “Expecting the unexpected has helped me become a better dancer – because the course of advocating for medicine and promoting the AMA’s agenda has more twists and turns than a tango danced during an earthquake. Were it a song, it might be Sheryl Crow’s ‘Every Day is a Winding Road’. In it, she sings about ‘swimming in a sea of anarchy’, but it is important to remember, every day, we are getting a little bit closer to the goal.”
He described the AMA’s new strategic plan to enhance professional satisfaction and practice sustainability, accelerate change in medical education and improve health outcomes.
According to Dr. Lazarus: “On the table is a better health care system, better outcomes for our patients, better training and education for tomorrow’s physicians and a brighter practice picture for physicians today.”
“And throughout, our compass for our Strategic Plan is the AMA Code of Medical Ethics. It tells us that we must recognize responsibility to patients first and foremost, as well as to society, to other health professionals and to ourselves.”
Dr. Lazarus concluded with the following inspiring words:
“The passing of years gives us more than grey or thinning hair. It also brings clinical advances, new technologies like electronic health records and increasingly complex administrative requirements.
For those who pursue a career in medicine, it can be a lot to juggle and maybe more than was bargained for. But for all of the challenges and frustrations – medicine above all is a profound calling -- one that helps people when they need help the most.
That, dear friends and colleagues, is something worthy of pride and optimism at any age, or any stage – in one’s career. And I can assure you that we all have even something more to offer.
For me, these past 12 months through airports, countries, and Capitol Hill, the winding road of medicine has been an incredible journey.
Though sometimes lonesome and sometimes uncharted, it presents some pretty spectacular views along the way. And for that, I will always be very grateful.
Now it’s up to you to keep on running. Our profession is worth it. This country needs us to be our very best, and together, this generation and all that follow, will cross every finish line together! Thank you.”
Jerry, thank you for taking us with you down that winding road of medicine and sharing with us the “spectacular views along the way – and for reminding us that what is needed and expected is that we be our very best.
The full text of Dr. Lazarus’ speech can be found on the AMA web site at