What does it mean to be a physician? Does a physician simply care for the patient’s immediate problem, or should they work to address the underlying social determinants of health? These are questions that pre-medical students like myself must think about as we apply to medical school. Every medical school application begins with a personal statement that attests to one’s true reasons for wanting to go to medical school. At the beginning of a medical career, one has to consider society’s expectations for physicians in order to set one’s personal expectations for oneself.
Danielle Orfi’s call for a Doctor’s March on Washington in the New York Times caught my eye as she encourages doctors to stand up for their patients and fight for the medical coverage the government is threatening to cut. Politics aside, the role of the physicians is to advocate for his/her patients. If a patient loses coverage mid-treatment, the doctor cannot provide adequate care, which is the fundamental role of physicians in society.
The level of patient advocacy in healthcare is largely dependent on the physician. Many physicians believe their role is confined to the hospital walls, while others believe medicine “cannot be cocooned.” With the ever-changing dynamic of healthcare in the United States, doctors can no longer afford to simply care for an ill patient; their medical care exceeds beyond the patients to the healthcare system.
So, we need a call for all medical personnel, both current and future, to take matters into our own hands and advocate what is best for the patients and what is best for medical care and access to all. The health of America affects everyone, and it is important that we march for one another and for our communities.