If we are abandoning the organizations that represent us collectively, be it at the local, regional, or national levels, is it because we feel they are not representing our interests or are too costly? If so, I would argue that there is an imperative to become more involved and to work to change the organizations that embody us collectively. At a minimum, supporting these organizations financially seems like a healthy investment in our profession to me.
Explore this issue:July 2018
As a follow-up question, how much has adherence to traditional, silo-based practices and resistance to collaborative teamwork contributed to the ceding of control of our work and work environments to other interests and goals, be they corporate, institutional, or bureaucratic? How much has a focus on institutional revenues and maximizing personal income affected medicine’s standing as characterized by “singular beneficence and basis in charity?”
This brings us to another, seemingly simple, question: How much of our professional standing have we been ceding because, in some measure, the public may not see our collective investment in the pursuit of health and healing as the top priority? How much is the huge upsurge in burnout and other forms of distress and dissatisfaction that we have been experiencing over the last two or three decades been the result of the chipping away of our professional roles and responsibilities? Perhaps if the public saw our collective commitment to them more clearly, then we would have a powerful ally to protect us in the long run.
These questions all point to one critical factor: the health of our profession as a profession. This deserves at least as much attention as all of the other remedies that we pursue in our quest for satisfaction in our work environment, from personal coaching to process changes to organizational reforms. Bound together, we have the power to preserve our profession. Divided, we will succumb to the commodification of medicine.
Dr. Johns is director of the USC Voice Center and division director of laryngology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He is also a deputy editor of ENTtoday.