Today is National Doctors Day — a moment in the hustle bustle of life to say thank you for being a doctor or doctor-in-training. For those friends-of-doctors who receive our emails, I hope you’ll indulge a moment of self-reflection on this day.
I am reminded today of a weekend way back in February 2009 when Doctors for America sent out our first petition — supporting health care investments in the stimulus package. In that early effort, we collected signatures by email and entered them one by one into a spreadsheet. We heard from hundreds of doctors and medical students. Emails poured in from states and cities I had never been to, but the sentiment was the same — across the country, doctors and medical students wanted better for our patients and for the practice of medicine, and they wanted it so much they were publicly standing up for it. I particularly remember hearing from a 90-year-old retired rheumatologist who wrote, “I have waited my whole life for health reform to happen. I can’t travel anymore, but I want to be a part of this movement.”
What I love about working with all of you at Doctors for America is the extraordinary diversity of people who share a common generosity of spirit and compassion toward the suffering of our patients and complete strangers. Some of you are retired after a long career of touching thousands of lives. Some of you are in medical school just learning how to care for people. Some of you see patients in a rural private practice or a large academic hospital. Some of you are world-expert subspecialty surgeons and others are family practice doctors who see it all. In clinics, hospitals, medical school classrooms, public health departments, government agencies, research labs and institutions, the public and private sector, you are making difference in the health and lives of people around you.
Each of you in your own way has made sacrifices to be a physician or physician-to-be. You have spent birthdays and holidays at a patient’s side. You have sat at home after a long day still worried about that one patient. You have clinched that diagnosis with all the art and science of medicine you could muster. You have stood up for your patients when a baffling medical bureaucracy has threatened to hurt them. You have shared sorrows and joys with patients and their families.
Above and beyond that, at some point you chose to be a part of the Doctors for America movement. You chose to join hands with colleagues across the country to take that extra step — to sign a petition, respond to a survey attend a call with a policy expert, ride along with a bus tour, show up in a white coat at a rally, write to your members of Congress or your local paper, meet fellow Doctors for America members at a national conference, educate the people around you. Your individual efforts big and small have added up to a movement that is transforming the profession of medicine and the health of the nation.
Today, we say thank you for all you do as physicians, advocates, citizens. In the midst of news cycles filled with political strife and divisiveness, it is this movement that gives me hope. Colleagues in all 50 states who believe that everyone — no matter who you are, where you’re from, or the color of your skin — deserves to have the greatest health possible so they can live their lives and follow their dreams.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. May you have a beautiful day today and take a moment to thank yourself and your colleagues in your service to humanity.