The Importance of Engaging Physicians-in-Training

Speaking at last month’s AMAC Foundation Health Care Symposium in Washington, Benjamin Rush Institute Executive Director Dr. Beth Haynes addressed the Institute’s quest to ignite principled civil discourse within the medical education community.

Dr. Haynes, a former private practitioner with board certification in both Family Practice and Emergency Medicine, used the results of recent surveys of medical students to provide a framework for recognizing the criticality of this need for discourse. She reported that surveys have shown collectively that 40% of medical students concede to a lack of real understanding about the Affordable Care Act, and that more than 50% expect that the quality of medical care in America will decline in the future, while fully 80% indicated they support the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Haynes delved into the topic of economics in the health care industry, citing Economist Kenneth Arrow’s publication Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care and its position that medicine and health care do not lend themselves to free market oversight, suggesting that their unique attributes are better managed through government intervention and regulatory oversight. To some degree, she observed, this type of thinking is rooted in a prejudice that profits in medicine exploit the sick, and therefore are immoral and do not belong in medicine.

With these broad principles serving as part of the foundation of medical education, Dr. Haynes suggested there is a critical need for greater balance in academic discourse on health care. She explained the purpose and mission of the Benjamin Rush Institute as being just that—to bring a broader spectrum of perspectives and evidence into the educational forum. Where social justice and social engineering precepts currently dominate, the Institute advocates the doctor-patient relationship as being the primary tenet in medical ethics. Dr. Haynes described the work that the Institute is doing on campuses nationwide as fostering informed dialogue through debates and lectures within its 20 chapters across the country.

Dr. Haynes also stressed the importance of messaging and communications. The Institute aims to stimulate interactions that reach the hearts and minds of not only their immediate constituency, but the entire health care audience at large. She notes that the embracing of universal health care as espoused by the ACA has accomplished this, but without answering the question “But at what cost?” The medical community in general, she suggested, has this same vision of health care for all, but disagrees on how that goal can be achieved.

Dr. Haynes closed her remarks with a discussion on medical technology and the state of the art today, noting that while medical excellence is imminent, the cost remains prohibitive. The path to achieving affordability, she suggested, is through free enterprise (which is really a type of “crowd sourcing”) and removing the legal and regulatory obstacles to innovation that currently block the discovery and implementation of practical solutions to many of today’s problems. The best way to achieve progress in this regard is to promote access to free enterprise profit and loss as the driver of innovation and affordability.

The June 9 & 10 Health Care Symposium was part of the AMAC Foundation’s goal of helping to protect and ensure the financial security, health, and social lives of current and future mature Americans through information, education, and research on Social Security, Medicare, and related health care issues. The remarks delivered by Dr. Haynes at the Symposium are available on-demand and in their entirety through the AMAC Network, a service of the Association of Mature American Citizens. Click here to view these archived presentations.

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