Dear friends, colleagues, members of the West Virginia State Medical Association, and all West Virginia physicians,
Today, Wednesday March 30th, 2022, marks National Doctors’ Day, a day designated to celebrate the loyalty and dedication each of us has committed to the betterment of the health and prosperity of our communities. This tradition began in 1933 when local communities chose to share their appreciation for what physicians do for them, day and night, and later culminated into Presidential Proclamation 6253, signed by President George Bush on Feb. 21, 1991, recognizing our "Nation's physicians for their leadership in the prevention and treatment of illness and injury" as well as promoting health and well-being.
While Doctors’ Day was meant to show society's appreciation for what we do, it also serves as a day of reflection allowing us to look inside and find out who we are, what we stand for, and where we want to lead our profession in years to come. Different from the 1930s, physicians are no more just providers of healthcare, nor are they the only professionals who claim such provision or even claim the title of Doctor. Many other healthcare professionals do so in various ways, yet no one healthcare profession can claim the level of training nor thoroughness of vetting physicians go through before they provide unsupervised patient care. We are way more than healthcare providers, but rather the guardians of healthcare and guarantors of quality and trustworthy practice of medicine when many seem willing to trade quality with quantity.
This is where WVSMA comes into the picture. On a day like this, it is critical to reinforce why WVSMA is here and where we want to be. Our mission at WVSMA is to advance health and promote quality and safety in the practice of medicine in West Virginia by representing the interests of patients, public health, and physicians. Doing that, we continue to make progress towards our vision, serving as the unified voice for the practice of medicine and the premier authority for evidenced-based health policy in West Virginia. We can only fulfil our mission and achieve our vision by working together and giving each of us the opportunity to be part of the equation and the solution. The best equation I know of is that Physician Unity Moves Medicine Through Diversity and Inclusivity.
The above equation has served my time at WVSMA ever since I joined and will continue to be my compass well after my presidency. Over the last few months, WVSMA made great efforts building our West Virginia House of Medicine where every medical specialty or special interest has a room, yet we all live under the same roof. This past legislative session proved a great experiment in collaboration among a variety of specialty societies, with WVSMA serving as the catalyst. This lead us on our path toward the Healthcare Advocacy Network, where every physician-led organization will have the opportunity to engage with other like organizations under the umbrella of WVSMA, thus creating a multiplying effect as we advocate for better healthcare, public health, and practice of medicine, at those times when a loud voice and rapid response matter the most. We have just received the list of specialty society representatives for the founding taskforce, the one that will define how the network functions during calm times as well as times policy making can happen so quickly and may take us by surprise.
No physician unity, diversity, nor inclusivity exists if we do not have the governance infrastructure to do so. For this reason, I am thankful for countless hours my colleagues joined me as we forged a modernized governance structure and policy-making mechanism affording us the representation and nimbleness needed to be proactive as we face challenges and identify opportunities. Following such enormous effort, our House of Delegates adopted the first of two amendments on December 4th, 2021. We still have one milestone to cross- the 2nd and final amendment that addresses our Constitution. Our special purpose annual meeting is scheduled in just a few days, this Saturday April 2nd , at 10 a.m.
At the time, we will review our HOD-adopted bylaws and have the opportunity for each of us to weigh-in on how our future governance will look. This will be followed by a HOD session shortly afterwards for the final adoption, following which we shall go through a transition period as we get the new governance structure into full operation. Please take the time to join us on this critical event, and make your voice heard. I look forward to talking to you as we move our Association forward, though Unity, Diversity, and Inclusivity.
Happy Doctor's Day. I thank you for the privilege to serve as your president.
Shafic Sraj, MD, MBA-c
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