As I contemplated what I wished to communicate on this first article of the New Year, I thought that it should be encouraging, challenging, contemplative, and oriented to action. Yes, action. Too often we sit down and read or surf over an article and we miss the opportunity for life changing moments. “The future is not in the hands of fate, but in ours,” Jules Jusserman.
If the future is truly in our hands, then we must engage both our minds and our wills to create this action and to make changes. 2022 is more than a new year; it is an opportunity for everyone to restart. As we begin this year, the pages are blank. We are going to put the words in the new year by our actions or inactions – the challenge is on our shoulders. Edith Lovejoy Pierce calls the new year a book and says that it is called “Opportunity”. Our work in the community is to heal – what we do for our families, ourselves, our legacy, our patients, our profession, our security. What aspects of our lives can we restart?
Part of the challenge is to discover what new information we can learn and decide how we will assimilate this information. How can we restructure our lives to enjoy our loved ones, our spouses, our children, and our grandchildren? How can we build a hedge of protection around our family unit? What is available for us in order to fulfill this desire to restart? We are in desperate need of a metamorphosis from tired, overworked healthcare providers in the midst of an international pandemic; from defending and securing our own rights and responsibilities, to making changes in what we consume, to how many hours we work, and last but not least, looking at our personal life and caring for our own needs and that of our families. We must be revitalized by proper sleep patterns; we need to focus on the most important thing in our lives which must include family time and vacation. We need to focus on our families and creating ethical, moral, conscientious, and sensitive humans who will eventually care for us and our planet in this ‘twinkling of the eye’ called the future. “There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children… one is roots and the other is wings,” Stephen Covey.
All that we accomplish by our education, our degrees and certificates, the work in the community, all our awards and trophies – they will all pass and be forgotten in the annals of time. How we give ourselves to our families and those yet to come will be an indelible legacy endured for future generations. It is important to recognize that we are making decisions today that will affect our lives and that of our families and their security.
Our parents warned us of the abuse of alcohol and its ability to destroy our lives and alter our goals. They encouraged us to refrain from the use of drugs which would alter our minds and create addiction. They taught us from early childhood to brush our teeth to prevent decay and gum problems such as gingivitis and the loss of our teeth in the future. They were correct although they may have never attained our level of education. They told us not to expose ourselves to the sun for lengthy times, yet it is only in the past twenty to thirty years that we learned that excessive sun exposure causes skin cancers such a basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer and deadly melanoma. I worked in many fields of medicine and surgery, but devoted much of my time to plastic surgery where patients presented in droves because of early sun exposure. Each generation shares its insights to protect and prevent poor decisions.
Change is a difficult chore and to restructure and restart takes an abundance of energy. Most important, it requires a plan. Only you can develop that plan, not myself or any guru that happens upon the stage of life. It is a personal decision and an urgent task that requires forethought and a mantra. Catherine Ponde has a mantra that she used and perhaps we can see some light in her words – “I am an irresistible magnet, with the power to attract unto myself everything that I divinely desire, according to the thoughts, feelings and mental pictures I constantly entertain and radiate. I am the center of my universe! I have the power to create whatever I wish. I attract whatever I radiate. I attract whatever I mentally choose and accept. I begin choosing and mentally accepting the highest and best in life. I now choose and accept health, success, and happiness. I now choose lavish abundance for myself and for all mankind. This is a rich, friendly universe and I dare to accept its riches, its hospitality, and to enjoy them now.” True change and true self care will always comprise both attitude and action.
I am generally writing to PAs and NPs about their lifestyles and futures. My concern is based on the current amount of burnout from overutilization in caring for Covid patients as well as the personal load of patients that is rising expeditiously. As a PA dinosaur, let me share one of the most important changes that will require you to contemplate, to challenge, and to cause you to restart in the area of mental health and security. Patient care is challenging and rewarding, but it can also be the cause of personal devastation for us and our family unless we protect ourselves. We were taught to lock the doors of our homes to assist us in having a secure home in which to dwell. Most of us have bought the locks for our doors and windows and even added security systems. Why? Because we love our families and wish to protect them. Why then is it so difficult to consider malpractice insurance in an age where people have justifiable complaints about a diagnosis, a wrong diagnosis, a late diagnosis which created the legal term of “failure to diagnose”? Why in this age of scientific breakthroughs and new medications are we sometimes frivolous in forgetting that we are responsible for those medications that we prescribe and their interactions with other medications? Are we choosing the correct medications and forming a treatment plan on accepted guidelines for the provider? Are we just trusting our personal employers to have the correct malpractice insurance for us, with proper limits, and that cover our responsibilities in the practice? Does this malpractice policy have what is called a “tail” or is it an occurrence policy? Is the underwriter a solid company with a history of years in defending their clients and with a BEST Rating of at least A.M Best +? I suggest securing a company with an A.M. Best rating of A++ (Superior) – the highest in the industry with a history of solid defense and a secure financial foundation.
Just as you would not purchase a cheap security system that will not meet your needs when and if the time comes, why purchase a malpractice insurance because of price, perhaps forgetting to focus on how they will cover you? I have seen the misfortune of others and have a 25-year history of observing what excellence and security is all about. Restart your new year with the right malpractice/professional liability insurance policy.
By: Bob Blumm, PA-C Emeritus, DFAAPA
PA Advisor to CM&F