It’s an honor to be sworn in as your 2023-2024 KMA President. I have been involved with the KMA in some way, shape or form since 2003, a few years after I started a private practice in Winchester.
At that time, the KMA offices were in an office building on Brownsboro Road. After getting involved through the Committee for Medical Business Advocacy, I remember walking past the big oil portraits, wondering what it would be like to serve as the KMA President (I guess I will find out). I also recall the long, fifty-foot table which dominated the conference room. There was a degree of seniority there, as the junior members sat by the coffee and refreshments, and the senior members were by the window. When the meeting started, I quickly learned why the senior members were up front – they were leaders. They saw the problems, they had the solutions, and if they didn’t have the solutions, they knew who to ask and what to do to find them. The front of the room meant leadership, and with medicine under significant pressure then as now, the decisions which were made had the potential to affect thousands of physicians and millions of patients in a positive manner.
KMA has since moved twice, each time to a smaller space. The portraits and table are gone or in storage. Today’s KMA is quick, nimble, and flexible. The KMA is able to effectively advocate for physicians and their patients because of outstanding leadership. In preparing to carry the leadership torch for the upcoming year, I took time to reflect on some of the individuals who have defined leadership for me. I will share some of those reflections over the course of the upcoming year as part of my President’s Messages in Kentucky Health E-News and in the KMA Communicator.
But what I want to say today is this – The Kentucky Medical Association needs you to be a leader. Remember that as a physician, everyone looks up to you as a leader, both inside and outside the office or hospital. You can make a tremendous difference in your life and your patients’ lives. KMA offers programs which can help to develop your skills as a leader, and can offer ways for you to utilize your leadership skills to help medicine and our patients.
I think it is significant that a growing number of current KMA leaders are graduates of the Kentucky Physician’s Leadership Institute (KPLI). KPLI addresses personal leadership, business leadership, and advocacy leadership in a collegial setting. As a KPLI graduate, the skills I have learned have been invaluable to me in my roles in KMA, as well as in my practice. I look forward to working to improve the program even further.
KMA’s current system of councils and commissions ensure that we pay close, proactive attention to legislative issues, public health issues, workforce issues, and planning issues affecting the organization. All of our commissions and committees meet virtually, which minimizes travel and ensures that your time is well spent. I would encourage anyone who is interested in participating with our commissions and committees to reach out to KMA staff to find out more.
So– leadership is important in being a physician today. I have had the benefit of learning from outstanding leaders, and I hope to carry the torch high during my presidency. Fortunately, KMA is already engaged in several advocacy programs which will help in my efforts.
One of my major priorities will be in attempting to get our statewide immunization levels back to where they were before the pandemic, both adult and child. KMA has also launched “Kentucky Physicians Care”, which will help to educate patients regarding team-based care, with physicians as leaders of that model. Physicians have the training and experience to lead interdisciplinary teams, and we are getting the message out that those teams can increase access, improve quality and reduce cost.
I am personally appreciative of the work that Doctor Monalisa Tailor and Doctors Shawn and Evelyn Jones have done on behalf of physician wellness, both in removing the stigma associated with seeking care through Senate Bill 12, and in increasing access to care for physicians who need it. Doctor Tailor plans to continue her “Learn With Me” series during the upcoming year. I am looking forward to working with them as they continue their outstanding work.
I will also continue to advocate for prior authorization reform, an issue that we can all agree not only impacts our daily lives, but the lives of our patients. KMA’s member survey earlier this year highlighted the fact that physicians believe prior authorization is the biggest issue they face in their day-to-day practices. Many of you came to Frankfort to advocate on the issue, and we plan to put an even greater focus on it this year. As we learned in KPLI, telling a story can be the most effective form of advocacy, and we all have many patient stories to tell showing how prior authorizations negatively impact the health of our patients. Please help us tell those stories so we can make a dramatic change on that issue.
I look forward to leading the Association over the coming year and will work tirelessly to improve the wellbeing of both medical practice and the citizens of the Commonwealth.