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President's Message - August/September 2017

By John F. McCarthy, MD | SCMS President

The Spokane County Medical Society (SCMS) has been undergoing significant introspection recently. The board is re-appraising the SCMS and looking to make sure that our vision of the future is “true” and meaningful for our community and for our members. To that end, we have undertaken a number of meetings to ensure that our direction is correct and represents where you, our membership, and other physicians/physician assistants (PAs), in the community think we can offer the greatest value. We specifically have met with Past Presidents, Young Physicians/PAs, Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) leadership, medical systems (Providence, MultiCare, Public Health, the VA, Kaiser) leadership, and we have had a visioning retreat.

We are looking at the finances of our organization as we address this visioning. In this letter, I want to share with you some of the guiding principles that are helping us address our future direction. Many of our conversations suggested the society was an important voice within our community that should remain robust and should be continued.

The visioning group noted that our mission, “Serving as the guardian of community health and wellness by leading and promoting the professional practice of medicine in our region” is relevant and it did not need to be changed; however, there needed to be a focusing of energy in line with this mission. There was also a desire for the membership to both give and to receive value by being a member. People wanted to be able to give to the community; they wanted a sense of a mission that was clear.

We also discussed that there needed to be a focus on specific county or local endeavors. Our focus is not to serve as a conduit to having a national voice. However, there was some appreciation of the reality that we are the largest and by far the most active medical society on the east side of the state. Our state colleagues at WSMA appreciate this voice and they want us to remain viable and maintain our voice outside of the I-5 corridor. There was some thought that WSMA was well positioned to offer the state and national advocacy we need; but there was clearly interest in SCMS being an advocating body for more local issues, e.g., grass burning of the past, electronic health record discussions. There was a strong desire to be a membership body that makes an impact at this local level.

There was also interest in our role as a neutral voice within our community to promote medical education. The medical society can support the training of our residents, medical students, and PAs. In truth, this will take the majority of us practicing clinical medicine if we are to be successful. We are also committed to promoting leadership within these future physicians/PAs. We recognize the need for training leaders early in medicine as being an imperative.

Additionally, we want to support our patients and their needs as well as our medical practices and our needs. This advocacy for patients and practices does not have to be mutually exclusive. For example, both patients and clinicians can envision streamlining referrals being something all of medicine can benefit from.

We believe that as all of the pressures continue to bear down on ourselves as clinicians, there needs to be some local support for member well-being and for the concept of wellness of our members. To this end, we want to promote wellness within our group.

Action steps that are being considered include:

  1. Deciding if there is a community health initiative that makes sense for our community to undertake. Promoting exercise and reducing obesity were topics discussed and there was a desire to engage public health and our health systems in this endeavor.
  2. Continue to support access to care; fortunately, this is less of an issue than what it had been in the past, but it remains very relevant and Project Access continues to be an important goal.
  3. Advocate for public policies.
  4. Continue the working successful offerings of SCMS
    1. CME conference
    2. Membership directory
    3. The “Message”.
  5. Provide social opportunities.

We hope this path forward makes sense to you. We are balancing this vision with our financial resources and the infrastructure and staffing resources we need to be successful. All of these conversations will hopefully result in a medical society that has meaning for all of us and leads us to remain a robust medical community with a common vision.

Picture of John McCarthy, MD, President of SCMS


John F. McCarthy, MD
SCMS President

Spokane County Medical Society
Ph: 509.325.5010 | Fax: 509.325.5409
708 North Argonne Road, Suite 5 | Spokane, WA 99212-2760