Since tax season is upon us, and you may be feeling the wolf at your door, I thought it useful to take a look at the importance of RETURN ON INVESTMENT…
There is value when benefit outweighs cost.
I was hoping to sell you on the value of belonging to the Greater Louisville Medical Society, the Kentucky Medical Association, and the American Medical Association. I thought about listing the savings from members-only programs. Or maybe the marketing, career development, and educational benefits might have impressed you. Charity, advocacy, and research could have been extolled.
I thought about asking you to go online to the Texas Medical Association’s “ROI Calculator” and input your specifics. I even thought about the It’s a Wonderful Life angle – depicting a world where these physician organizations never existed.
But how can there be a list of each valued benefit if one does not know which benefits are most valued by each individual?
Then I realized something. I know you. I can see through your eyes, because I am like you. At some branch in our medical family tree we are blood kin.
I know you do not want to be forced to follow cookbook recipes for efficiency or some computer software’s definition of quality. You want the freedom to relate to your patients as individuals – not as record numbers and diagnosis codes. You want to be compensated adequately and fairly. You want to answer to a higher calling than a checklist of outcome measures. You want to practice the art and science of medicine.
You want to be what you studied all those years to be, what you risked your health to be, gave up your precious time with family to be, went into debt to be, lost countless hours of sleep to be, worked endless hours on-call to be, got bloody to be, risked getting sued to be, what the core of your being demands you to be.
By the time you see this article, I will have had the honor of addressing the University of Louisville Medical School incoming freshman class. It is a tradition called the White Coat Ceremony. To don the gleaming garment symbolizes to the world, “I am called to a noble and trusted order of healers.” Years later their journey will culminate with acceptance into our family.
But will our family have a home in which to welcome them? Or will we be living in cookie-cutter communes – designed for us but not by us?
Your Greater Louisville Medical Society is a home built by physicians, for physicians – regardless of who pays the salaries, the benefits, or the dues. It is a home where you can find comfort, support, and refuge. It is a place to focus, strengthen, coordinate, collaborate, and advocate. It gets to the heart of why we went into medicine – to use our gifts, through dedication and hard work, to improve the human condition. And the KMA and AMA are extensions of this home.
Think back to when you were happiest as a physician. It was probably when you did something that was completely selfless, without any concern that the benefit outweighed the cost, without consideration of a return on investment.
You delivered the breech baby, clamped the bleeding artery, discovered the tumor in time, followed up on the lab test that saved a life, comforted the dying patient or the grieving family. In moments like these, when cost is irrelevant, you become the quintessence of your calling.
In The Call of the Wild, Jack London wrote:
There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.
For us, this ecstasy comes when we invest in our calling, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that there be a return on that investment.
We are physicians.
This is our core value.
Cost is irrelevant.
Answer the call.
Note: This article was first published as the Greater Louisville Medical Society President’s eVoice, August 2013.
James Patrick Murphy, MD, MMM is President of the Greater Louisville Medical Society 2013-14. Dr. Murphy’s blog is The Painful Truth. He can be found on TWITTER @jamespmurphymd. His President’s eVoice and other communications & videos can be accessed at the Greater Louisville Medical Society website.