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President's Message

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  • Building Professionalism; Building a Strong ISMS

  • William A. McDade, MD
    ISMS President
    William A. McDade, MD, PhD

    It is my pleasure to serve Illinois physicians and patients over the next year as ISMS President. I expect to be busy. In addition to the hat I wear with my ISMS duties, I also work in an active clinical practice as an anesthesiologist at the University of Chicago. A third hat in my rotation is Deputy Provost for the university.

    I am excited to tackle the many challenges we face and to represent your views to the public. One topic that is of particular interest to me is bolstering ISMS' membership ranks. To be frank, during this time when physicians should be showing support for their professional association to represent our interests most doctors choose not to belong. If you are reading this, you probably get it and know why we need a strong ISMS.

    However, a disconnect remains with many of our peers.

    When I reflect on ISMS challenges for growing our membership I rely on all of these hats as well as my university colleagues for perspective.

    An economist would tell me that the answer is simple, in that value, which is equal to benefit over cost, has not been demonstrated sufficiently to incentivize the consumer to make the decision to join.

    My business school friend would opine further by stating that the decision to join is governed by a need for a service that is unattainable except through the purchase of a good that is controlled by a seller. In other words, if the buyer can obtain the service without paying for it, then there is little incentive to purchase the good.

    Legal scholars have argued that the health care delivery system has shifted from a physician-dominated, professional model to a market paradigm, in an effort to address the skyrocketing costs of health care. This shift has led to dire pronouncements of the demise of medical professionalism. Perhaps by reinvigorating professionalism in medicine, we might achieve results that evade both market forces and command-and-control legislation.

    Could it be that potential members did not know what was done on their behalves? My colleagues in the English Department opine that your audience must understand what you say and must feel what you feel to best get your message across. We should strive to make what we do available to potential members and to make it as personal as we can in delivering our message. You may notice a new look and feel to the messages you are receiving from ISMS. The communications vehicles that ISMS uses have been recently updated and new strategies are now being implemented.

    It is my hope that each of us learns to use the materials available to us to re-ignite the professional responsibility in the potential member to join with us to promote the practice of medicine and the welfare of those we serve. In my mind, this will always be at the core of my identity as a physician.

    The formation of identity leads me to another campus location. The social scientists split into three camps. The psychologists would explain that the identity of a physician today is no longer formed by the need to be associated with the main corpus of physicians. Ego can be maintained in the present context through other identities that derive from, but are different from the whole. These alter-egos could be that they define themselves as specialists first and not as physicians of the general body. Or, they see themselves as employed physicians, and not as simply as physicians. Or, they are so split in their identity by the many choices they have that they are paralyzed and incapable of making a decision to see how any identity matters.

    Advance a shared vision; affirm importance of organized medicine

    I urge you forget yourself and become part of something larger. This is the essence of professionalism and why we must restore it within the profession. The psychologists get how important it is for us to have a foundational identity that transcends the everyday workaday world.

    Getting our potential member colleagues to share this vision should be our mission for the Society. However, we have to put laser focus on this goal and not be distracted by matters that detract from this. Although, at its core, ISMS is a political organization, politics cannot be our focus. It is true that Illinois is a purple state, with two concentrated blue dots in a nearly entirely red state. Yet, we can't allow that which could divide us to prevent us from doing what is best for medicine in this state.

    As a medical educator, I am invested in the teaching mission of medicine and believe that is where we have failed the most in terms of instilling the values of professionalism. My sociology colleagues would say that today's learners are different. They learn in different styles, they value personal time over in-class tradition. However, one thing that is constant in the education of a physician is the inculcation of professional values.

    We have a responsibility to the future members of our profession to show them what we do and why it is important. Educating our youngest potential members, as well as those who have already joined, is key in affirming the manifold ways that organized medicine is essential for the perpetuation of the very medical education system that has trained them.

    I look forward to the year ahead and meeting many new friends and colleagues from around the state. I also would like to hear your thoughts on how ISMS can better serve our members. Email me at DrMcDade@isms.org.

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  • William A. McDade, MD

    2014 ISMS President
    William A. McDade, MD, PhD
    Chicago, IL

    Send your questions and
    comments to Dr. William McDade.

  • Inaugural Speech

  • Listen to Dr. McDade's interview on WBBM’s At Issue with Craig Delimore 5/18/14

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