Jeffrey A. Gordon, M.D.
President, Connecticut State Medical Society
September 28th, 2016
Thank you for bestowing upon me today the distinguished honor of President. One hundred and seventy-seven physicians have held this office before me. I hope many more men and women hold it long into the future.
We rejoice outwardly this 224th annual gathering of the Connecticut State Medical Society by letting people know of the uninterrupted and continued work of the Society. We celebrate inwardly among ourselves what the Society has achieved over these past years and what we hope for it to accomplish in future years. Today’s event is not solely my inauguration as the Society’s President. It is also an annual renewal of your Society.
We are stewards of the Society, stretching back to 1792, just as we are stewards of the medical profession, stretching back far longer. We have an enduring commitment to help our colleagues and ourselves improve health care and the health of our fellow citizens whom we call our patients. We have a solemn duty to pass onto the next generation of doctors a thriving medical profession.
During my term as President, I want to focus our attention as a Society on four important topics: “who we are”; “why we do what we do”; “how we do what we do”; and “who does it”.
First, “who we are”.
We are one Connecticut State Medical Society.
Necessity requires we band together, unified, to be stronger than we can be individually. It has served and will serve us well. We are strong through the diversity of our membership. The different parts of the Society strengthen us. We value the uniqueness and importance of the County Medical Associations: Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, Tolland, and Windham. We appreciate the work of Society sections and committees. We cheer on the work of individuals.
Even with our differences, we are one Connecticut State Medical Society. We have common purpose and common goals. Our shared values unite us. We are better when we stand up for each other, when we work together, and when we share with each other.
If one part of the Society needs help, then we all must help.
If one part of the Society can help others, then it must help others.
That is the Connecticut State Medical Society of which I am a member. That is the Connecticut State Medical Society of which you are a member.
Second, “why we do what we do”.
I am not naïve about our situation. In order to solve the problems affecting our patients and us, we must speak frankly. There is a clear and present danger to the medical profession and to patient care. We are at an inflection point.
We are besieged by external forces that seek to reshape medicine into something of their own fashions and self-interests. They seek to move us from a highly respected profession to a highly regulated profession. They endeavor to remove us from the patient-physician relationship.
We are not adrift, left to the currents of our times. We can sail a direct course in a turbulent sea of change if we are unified in our purpose, coordinated in our efforts, and steadfast to our unchanging ideals. Others may try to push us off course, but as one Society, working together, we can buffer the storms and push back. We are not helpless or hopeless. Even during these times of great change, the challenges before us are not insurmountable. It is true that the future is unknown, but our way ahead is not blocked. The future of our Society is up to us completely to determine.
We will continue to engage actively on the issues of importance to our patients and to us. To do otherwise is an unacceptable default, letting others decide things about us.
We meet the challenges before us by not straying from who we are. We are more than an organization of acclaimed and storied history. The Connecticut State Medical Society is an organization of important actions and outcomes. The best people to guide properly the changes needed in health care are the very same people providing the health care: doctors. The success of changes in health care that can bring about improved patient care is dependent upon our involvement as physicians. For others to leave us out of the decision making process hobbles that success.
Our standing firm on the principles of medical care is not political grandstanding. It is good public policy. Not anything is more important a principle in medicine than the patient-physician relationship. We as the Connecticut State Medical Society are never finished in our mission to improve the learned ability of doctors to care for people and for people to get the great care we as doctors provide. We strive to do better. Our inspiration is learning from each other. Our calling is helping each other.
Some people say we are naysayers for opposing some of the changes occurring around us. When we oppose those things that take away from our profession and our patients, then by saying “no” to them we are really saying “yes” to our principles and policies. For every one item we support because of the good it will do, there are one hundred items we oppose because of the harm they will do. This is important work. We do it because it is right and necessary. Our ability to seek consensus and adapt to change is timely, but our principles are timeless. We can hold our ground and not compromise our core beliefs while still finding ways to get things done. We may not achieve everything we seek, but it is a better course to take than to give up in discouragement and let destructive forces proceed uninhibited.
Third, “how we do what we do”.
Structures that are intended to stand the test of time are built with strong foundations and maintained with proper care. We have undertaken a new restructuring of the Society to make it last long into the future. These things have been underway the past year. They are on a great start. Now, we need a new look at our strategy. We need to move beyond the internal struggles that weaken our strength and divert limited resources from needed efforts. We need now more than ever before to do the work we have to do as a Society. This is the time of opportunity to rejuvenate, reinvigorate, revitalize, re-energize, refresh, reset, restore, refocus, and rebuild the manner by which we do the Society’s work. A manner that reflects being responsive, responsible, and respectful.
It is not just what we do, but also how we do it, that matters.
As President, I am committed to helping move things forward, just as I have been helping to do so before I was President. Not one of us has all of the answers, but all of us have the capacity and the capability to work together to find a way toward the answers. It takes time and effort. If you truly care about solving a problem, then you want to do what is needed to get it solved right. It is better to get the right answers than to bring about fast answers.
Fourth, “who does it”.
We are more than just members of the Society. We are active participants in our profession. Our real strength is measured not just by how many members the Society has, but also by how well we all work together in tough times.
As we continue to renew our efforts to increase membership, the question is not whether we have a Society. The question is how we have a Society that continues to serve well its members.
The best membership benefit there is from the Society is advocacy – for our patients, for our profession, and for you. Someone else cannot do it for us. It takes giving of our interest, involvement, ideas, and investment. It takes increasing the number of our membership at both the county and state levels, at the same time. A unified membership is key.
For those of you who are members of the Society, thank you for being part of our team. For our colleagues who are not members, then we need to have them join us.
We have an exciting future. We are better than all of the problems we face because we are the physicians of Connecticut.
Let us have faith in ourselves as the Connecticut State Medical Society.
It is not about what we can do. It is about what we will do working together.
I look forward to working with and for you, the physicians of Connecticut, and our patients, the people of Connecticut.