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President’s Message!

From: Edward Washabaugh, MD

Doctor…What is your New Year’s Resolution?

I know what you are thinking. It is February and it is cold. Spring break looms and you wish you kept your resolution to lose the weight before that trip to warmer climates. Think back to January 1st. Did you make a resolution? New Year’s resolutions are the best part of the New Year. It is a fresh start and a new chance. It is the day to measure the “rest of your life”.  There are other days that rival that date. Your anniversary, your 21st, 30th, 40th, 50th birthdays are all excellent days for resolutions that rival New Year’s, but only New Years is a clean slate that returns every year. Let’s look at our own resolutions as well as those of our patients and our society.

It is difficult for doctors to make changes or to objectively make a self evaluation. We have been reviewed, examined, trained, tested, retrained, retested, criticized, praised and compensated. I had a difficult time trying to make a game changing resolution for this year so I consulted my staff and my patients. They had plenty of suggested resolutions. The consensus from my staff was that my New Year’s resolution should be to stay on time. Staying on time is one of the most difficult tasks for a physician. Many of us have a conveyer belt like work load with an added unpredictable crisis placed in to our daily practices. Many of us don’t have time for computer system crashes, late patient arrivals or insurance verification delays. Many of us can find other causes than ourselves to blame for our tardiness.  Unfortunately, most doctors never give themselves a chance to stay on time. Most of us don’t show up to work on time! The 730am operating room start means that the patient goes to the operating room at 730am. It doesn’t mean that is the time that you start to interview the patient before going to the operating room. The 800am clinic appointment is the time the physician should enter the exam room and not the time that the doctor arrives in the clinic to start the quest for a clean lab jacket and a cup of coffee. For most of us, once we are behind in our day we stay behind in our day.  So New Year’s resolution number one is to be on time by being on time for that first patient of the day.

When I returned to work in the New Year, my favorite greeting with each patient is “what is your New Year’s resolution?” It is not surprising that many older patients do not make resolutions. One of the most common responses is “I always break them, so I never make them.” It is hard to argue with such logic.  When you are lucky enough to get an actual response, the most common response is “to feel better.”  This shows that you can never under estimate the power of good health.  Surprisingly, retired people or disabled patients overwhelmingly do not make resolutions.  Younger generations or employed patients overwhelmingly make resolutions. These resolutions usually involve personal improvement and as you can guess, weight loss is the overwhelming number one resolution.  One resolution that no longer makes the list is to quit smoking. The State of Michigan spent 1.8 million dollars last year in anti-smoking education.  Smoking is not a thing of the past but it surely remains on the decline! Of course the best resolution I solicited was from a patient who proudly stated,” I am going to eat an apple a day!” If you have to ask…it is to keep the doctor away!

How about the New Year’s resolution for the Washtenaw County Medical Society? Our society is the grass roots meeting place for the physicians in Washtenaw County.  It is the only organization that connects UM with St. Joes and it allows any member to make resolutions that then can go to the state and possibly to the federal level. We are now looking for resolutions to be made by our members. If there is anything you would want changed in medicine, contact the society at wcms@msms.org . Writing a resolution is easy and your society has a treasure chest full of experience to make your resolution a success! This year, your society is planning on bringing you four CME educational events ranging from Healthcare Information Technology to Healthcare Associated Infections. Our society has also made a resolution to connect with the medical education of our community thru educational cable programs and starting the WCMS externship program for pre-medical students. So, as 2013 marches on; Doctor…What is your New Year’s resolution?

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