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Should Physicians Join the Union

With the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, endless global conflicts, and the 50-50 political dichotomy in the USA, it may be time for providers (physicians, Nurse Practitioners, and Physician Assistants to organize into an effective voting force.

In the interesting blog Physicians must unionize. Here’s why, the author recommends that physicians create a union to protect their interests from governments, health systems, and the endless prevailing forces that the individual has no control over.

I would suggest reading the article as maybe the time has come for physicians to get organized and protect their substantial interests.

These interests include autonomy, financial security, work conditions, and protecting the greatest guild ever created. Physicians have reaped the benefits since the 1960’s thanks to a fee for service model and Medicare guaranteeing a financial floor to generate exceptional incomes for 30-40 year careers. Along with social status and respect, it is a great job.

However, practice and personal satisfaction has significantly decreased in the last decade. More government mandates (usually unfunded), hospitals employing physicians, and the destruction of the personal doctor-patient relationship has been steadily on the rise.

Physicians are generally organized if at all by specialty societies with varied interests. This diminishes the overall power and clout of all physicians. Critics would argue that doctors are overpaid compared to the world market and are chief offenders at driving up costs.

A similar argument can made against the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). It has been called a joke because it represents rich football players. The football players do make great sums of money but their careers last 3-5 years with lifetime physical disabilities to follow. Physicians can earn significant amounts of money over 30-35 years without similar threat to life or limb.

The union could represent the physician body in the ongoing financial negotiations with CMS, insurance companies and hospitals, work rules, malpractice, contracts, Electronic Health Record implementations, ICD -10 implementation, and etc.

The individual has lost any clout to fight these forces or influence the decision making. A physicians’ union would put the “players” back in the discussion. And yet, there may be ethical and practical considerations that might keep some from wanting to join a union. For example, would you cross a picket line to help the bleeding patient on the sidewalk? Most would say yes, despite getting roughed up or jettisoned from the union. And then, how many times have you seen a hundred or more physicians in a meeting (think union meeting) that agree on anything? Younger physicians steer clear of medical entities, such as the AMA, which has a pre-union character to it. Perhaps they realize that the results of joining could include an early retirement a la Jimmy Hoffa. Lots to think about before unionizing.

XpressTechnologies Electronic Health Records constantly works for the provider to empower their practices and personal lives.

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