As I prepared for NPA’s recent board meeting, I thought about the email I received from a pediatrician after the Newtown shootings. The email said simply, “I’ve had it.”
That message not only represents the reaction of many NPA members (and many Americans) to the epidemic of gun violence. It also describes the moment for many of us that kick starts us from frustration to action. For me, that moment came early one morning when I was called to see a young man who had collapsed on the sidewalk and hit his head while waiting in line as a new patient. He was there because he had just been discharged from a local hospital after an admission for pneumonia, but had no way of obtaining the expensive antibiotic he had been prescribes to take after discharge. I realized that day that I would need to find a way to act outside my clinic if I wanted to see the changes I believed our health care system needs.
The NPA has accomplished a tremendous amount in its short existence. We have developed a group of articulate, well-informed physician leaders who are comfortable talking to the media, to our legislators, to the FDA, and to other policy makers about a wide range of issues that affect our patients. Whether it is access to health care, physician free speech, conflict of interest, gun violence prevention, or other pressing issues, we are committed to being there and to the role of physicians in public policy.
I am grateful to the many physicians who step forward to meet each of these challenges. For each of you, I hope that NPA is the organization that give you the tools and the fellow physicians to speak out on the issues with which you have “had it.” If you haven’t yet found your way to connect, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.
And for all that you do for patients and to make our health care system better everyday, I thank you!
-Cheryl Bettigole, MD, MPH