“Elections have consequences.” How many times have you heard this? Without question decisions made by our elected officials touch every aspect of our lives in some way. This is particularly true for local and state elections. For this reason, whatever your political persuasion it is essential that we all vote this Tuesday.
Healthcare reform often is the political issue that draws physicians into election debates. We see this particular topic as the main political discourse affecting our professional lives. Healthcare reform will again be up for policy review after these elections. Whomever you elect will be shaping how you practice medicine and how your patients navigate the health care system. This is why elections matter.
Many of us are concerned about patient access to care, disparities in care, the affordability of care, and reimbursements. For physicians everywhere how our patients engage in the healthcare system, the amount of value that is placed on the delivery of our work, all matter. To reform healthcare or not, is our bread and butter political issue across medical specialties. However there is so much more beyond health care reform that we must show up and vote for in these elections. Here are 3 reasons to vote beyond healthcare reform.
Vote because “Bread and Butter Issues” affect us too: We often hear that elections are about bread and butter issues. American people participate in elections to voice their concerns about pocketbook issues. Physicians, women in white coats, are no different. As women in white coats, we are mothers, we are business women, we are from families of farmers, immigrants, caregivers of aging family members, we are former students with educational debt loans, we are military officers. We are democrats, republicans, and independents. We worry about our finances, our investments and 401K. We make decisions about the education our children get. We worry at night about our children being safe at school. We anguish over our sons and fear of racial profiling. Women in white coats represent every aspect of the American experience. Therefore, we must make voting a priority and have our voices heard concerning the wide range of issues that affect our lives.
Vote because we are Leaders: Women in white coats live in a duality. We are part of the general population with bread and butter issues affecting us, yet we are somehow also set apart. We are leaders and high level decision makers. We have agency and freedom that some members of our communities do not. Our patients entrust us to help them in their most desperate times, life and death. We are privy to the most private and intimate information in our patients lives. From this unique vantage point, we can see community level problems and how those interplay with national issues in ways that other professions may not. Many of us have seen first hand how a cancer diagnosis and treatment required can financially destroy a family. Some of us grew up in families in rural America where our neighbors farmed. We now return to see those farms sold. We sit on hospital boards, chambers of commerce, church councils, and lead PTAs. Our communities trust us and believe in us. Vote because we are leaders.
Vote because it is our Civic Duty: Taking the direct personal gain aside, or the community responsibility to be a voice for those without one, voting is our civic duty. The framers of our democracy built this nation upon many lofty ideals. These ideals are just that, only ideals, without the involvement of citizens. Each of us makes our democracy better and more effective, when we all vote. Our vote is how we hold our elected official accountable. Political position aside, at the local, state, and federal level our votes drive legislative and policy decisions. A democratic and free society requires active citizen participation. I grew up in Massachusetts learning about the Pilgrims who came to this country for religious freedom, The American Revolution and the great ride of Paul Revere as we broke from British tyranny. We learned about slavery and the constitutional struggle to recognize each man (and later woman) as full citizen. Through Women’s suffrage and Civil Rights ordinary citizens like ourselves have driven our democracy forward for the benefit of generations after them. Vote because it is our civic duty.
If you have not already done so, make it a priority to get to the polls Tuesday. For those who are supervising residents and medical students, remind them to do so as well. Remember, as many say, elections have consequences. Many also say, “Your vote is your voice,” so make sure it counts!
Dr. Bande Virgil is a pediatric hospitalist and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics. Her passions are two fold, helping parents be better equipped to raise children in the new millenium. Secondly, to encourage physicians and those in training to live balanced productive personal and clinical lives. She is a co-author of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats.” Follow her on Instagram @themommydoc1.