Politics in Medicine


From ACOG - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - May, 1999

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Dr. Dan Braun: "Welcome back to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting in Philadelphia, for 1999. I'm Dr. Daniel Braun, from Indianapolis, and sitting with me is Dr. Lance Talmage, from Toledo, Ohio. Dr. Talmage is Chairman of District 5 of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and as of last Saturday, past President of the Ohio State Medical Association. Lance, could you tell us how a fellow such as yourself, who is in private practice and very busy practicing medicine, ends up getting to be so involved in the politics of medicine?"

Dr. Lance Talmage: "I think you get interested in an issue, and my bed has always been as a patient advocate. Once you get interested, you'll find other people who have the same interest, and then they usually ask you if you would like to be on a board or a committee. It sort of snowballs from there."

Dr. Dan Braun: "So it's not something you really set out to do, to become district chairman, it's just you get out there, fight for an issue, and it goes from there. Is that right?"

Dr. Lance Talmage: "Exactly, I think probably fifteen years ago when this all began, I had no intention of being a district chair, president, or anything else. It's sort of a thing that evolves because your interested, you feel that there's a job that needs to be done, and somebody says, "Would you like to take more responsibility to get that job done?" It evolves, I think, very naturally."

Dr. Dan Braun: "How do you find the time for that?"

Dr. Lance Talmage: "Fortunately, my wife is very understanding, and the kids were always a priority when they were home. Now that they've been gone for a few years, having their own families, it's a little easier but you do sacrifice a little bit of income, you're not in the office quite as much, and you go where the meetings are instead of going where you want to go. But if it's a job worth doing, it's a job worth sacrificing for, as far as I'm concerned."

Dr. Dan Braun: "I suppose the fact that you have a hard working good partner helps a little bit too?"

Dr. Lance Talmage: "It helps tremendously, and she's very interested. She's the political arm of the family and helps make connections for me and makes it a lot easier to get done what I want to do."

Dr. Dan Braun: "I was actually referring to your other partner, your partner in practice."

Dr. Lance Talmage: "Right, they're a good partner too. Yes, they've been super and being willing to take call for me when I'm gone, and sometimes you have to make up call when you get back but that's ok."

Dr. Dan Braun: "So in other words, it just evolves and that's the way it goes."

Dr. Lance Talmage: "I think so, I think being interested is the key in finding that patients do need advocacy, and they do need to be assured that they can get good access to good quality medical care. If that's your guiding principal, there's lots of opportunities to move up in committees, participation, and leadership."

Dr. Dan Braun: "So that would be your advice to young residents who are just finishing and going out into practice?"

Dr. Lance Talmage: "Yes, it would. I think even a little bit of involvement while they're really busy early on in their practices will keep them in the net, and then they get pretty much swept up in moving up as soon as they have the time and the opportunity."

Dr. Dan Braun: "Very good. Thank you very much for being with us - we've enjoyed it."

Dr. Lance Talmage: "Thank you, I appreciate it."

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