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Stand Up for Medicine: A Commentary

This commentary was featured in the May 2019 edition of the Journal.  Dr. Tim Paden is an AMS District 9 Trustee and is a family physician in Mountain Home.

As physicians, we set our sights on the profession for a variety of reasons – interest in medicine, family
tradition, a desire to comfort or heal others. In my case, I trace it back to fourth grade when my father, Robert W. Paden, a pharmacist in the small town of Yellville, influenced me the most with his compassion for others and willingness to help no matter the time of day or night. We can each identify a few influences in our past that directed us in some way into medicine. When reflecting on the driving nature and traditions in medicine that connect all of us in the profession across the globe no matter the location of your training now that we all practice in Arkansas, we have one thing in common – protecting the sanctity of our profession.

Long before health care became a hot topic in our nation based on expense, access, and health  management, this profession was one of the healing arts. Men and women are drawn to the elements of protecting life, preserving health, or advancing treatment methods. Consider the sacrifices of our  professional ancestors, going all the way back to Hippocrates. The focus on an individual in order to ascertain a diagnosis and subsequent treatment based on the current knowledge and treatment methods of the time to restore health or limit the damage, is still the underlying theme. Now, with the evolution
of health care to this point – with the cost strategies, population management, and access and scope-of-care issues – what are we to do?

We are to stand up for health care. If you’re in direct patient care with full office schedules and call, then take good care of your patients. Stand up for health care. If you’re involved in administrative duties, organizational activities, or management positions, stand up for health care. If you’re on the Arkansas Medical Society Board of Trustees and following legislation or in teaching positions of the university system, stand up for health care.

Two years ago, I joined AMS after 28 years of practice in a small town. One reason for joining was because I felt that some of us need to stand up for health care. We must do this to keep the profession solid, honorable, and intact despite the direction of control or the demands of the “system.” It is and always will be about the patient.

If it’s a prescription the patient needs, then fight for it. If it’s a position you hold on a hospital committee, fight for it. If you teach students, fight for it. On all ground and all places and all circumstances, we must fight for our profession.

Delegate others to help you. Inspire the youth to seek medicine and share why you went into medicine. Some say the Golden Age of Medicine is over. I say it is just beginning. Never
before has our art form been needed more than it is today. So, stand up for health care and fight for
it – not just for the income or for control, but for the sake of the profession itself. Our ancestors
gave us a noble, honorable profession, so let’s give the same to our offspring.

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