Kevin Reavis, OMA President Installation, 10/28/2017
I want to thank the Oregon Medical Association for the privilege and honor to serve as your President. I thank you all for your trust in me to lead this wonderful organization. I would also like to thank my wife, Kelly and my sons Nathan & Andrew for joining me today on this special occasion… I know we’re nearing Andrew’s naptime, so I’ll remain on task. I’d like to recognize Dr. Rob Orfaly for his steady handed work as president this past year. Rob has led with equanimity throughout what has been a truly unique 12 months of change in government and health care upheaval. I also need to offer a special note of appreciation to Bryan Boehringer for his role as CEO of our organization and the guidance he provides as we navigate the complex issues continually facing our organization. Our weekly exec conference calls at 7am on Tuesdays often begin with “I know the week before was crazy… but last week… now THAT was crazy!”
Brian is joined by many talented OMA staff members without whom our organization and today’s wonderful event would not exist. Thank you!
Serving as the 143rd president of the OMA is a true privilege, partly because I’ve never been involved in anything else that is 143 years old! We’ve been around a LONG time. Upon learning that I would assume this role I initially felt a bit intimidated. I thought “Shouldn’t this be occupied by a seasoned, wise senior statesman or stateswoman?” Then upon receiving countless supportive messages that the OMA is in good hands with a bright future, I settled into my role alongside Dr. Orfaly and let the enthusiasm flow.
The OMA has a long and storied history of guiding healthcare in this state. We are in uncertain times to say the least, at both the federal and state level. But with great challenges, come great opportunities. Our theme today, “Putting the joy back into medicine,” is all about engaging the challenges we face professionally, politically, and personally. We must transform these challenges into opportunities for new found engagement, unity, and progress. I plan to facilitate these opportunities every day of my Presidency; with these in place, the Joy is back in Medicine.
Taking on these challenges ensnares those around me. Over the dinner table, my wife Kelly will listen to my complaints about any number of issues we face… and her response is steadfast and unwavering: You know the problem… now be part of the solution. (Nathan… can’t you and I just complain once in a while and have mom just nod thoughtfully??... that’s not who I married and I love her for that)
Unity/Persevering through conflict
Along similar lines I’m happy to assure you that OMA members do find solutions in the midst of conflict… Our Maintenance of Certification task force chairperson John Evans recently turned challenge into opportunity by guiding a “very feisty” task force full of strongly held opinions and heated discussions about the future of MOC. He crafted consensus amongst the members, resulting in a set of unified recommendations for the state that we can be proud of. This is the type of collaboration we need at the OMA to navigate the challenges ahead and contribute substantially to their solutions.
A recent TED talk I enjoyed emphasized that success is rarely achieved solely through talent, power or intellect. The most telling characteristic of success comes from GRIT… perseverance. Take for example the first text book I was asked to coordinate and edit in 2014… (I was new at this and clumsily still finding my bearings) The book came together laboriously; it took over 2 years and it only had 16 chapters. Fast forward to February 2017 where I led an editorial team in coordinating an upcoming text book on bariatric surgery. Due to our professional society’s tight deadlines we were tasked with encouraging our invited authors to complete all 46 chapters in 4 months. We laughed at the absurd idea and then took up the challenge. We crafted each invitee’s involvement in achievable portions… then crushed them with infectious enthusiasm. When we encountered a hesitant colleague we responded with the opportunity that lay ahead. I’d say “This is your chance to shine and share with the world your insight on this fascinating issue… now dazzle us!” I’d reinforce that with a sense of belonging… “you wanna be with the cool kids right?... all the cool kids will have their chapters in by July.”
By mid-July… all 46 chapters were in and after several weeks of feverish editing, we had a text rivaling in length “War & Peace” off to the publishers.
It’s impressive what can be accomplished with a bit of enthusiastic grit & perseverance.
Nothing requires grit and perseverance quite like advocacy and the OMA KNOWS how to advocate for the betterment of our state.
Two of our heroes in Salem deserve particular attention. Courtni Dresser our director of government relations and Mark Bonanno our general counsel.
I used to think there was an army of OMA staffers carpeting the legislature in the state capitol, advancing OMA interests… The reality is that a herculean amount of work is handled by Courtni and Mark… or Wonder Woman and Superman as I quietly refer to them.
In February of this year I became aware just how terrifyingly vulnerable our profession is and how critical the advocacy efforts are of this particular duo.
They prepped me to testify in front of a state senate judiciary subcommittee regarding a proposed bill which would eliminate the non-economic damages cap in malpractice cases. Courtni told me that our opposition to the bill was secure at the moment… but only by 3 senate votes. I informed the committee that passage of the bill would jeopardize the ability of family practice providers to afford obstetric malpractice premiums in the Eastern 2/3rds of the state. A proponent of the bill insinuated that a reasonable solution would be for women of childbearing age in Eastern Oregon to uproot and move West of the Cascades where most Obstetricians practiced. As I listened in disbelief, a senate committee member spoke up and mentioned that as a lay person, he hadn’t appreciated the collateral ramifications the bill may have on healthcare providers and that maybe the bill should be revised. I nodded my heartfelt agreement and realized just how loud the call to action had become. Never before had I realized just how true the phrase is: If you’re not at the table… you’re on the menu!
OMA is our voice in Salem
If you were not aware of how just how vulnerable we are… you’re not alone. A couple years ago Mark Bonanno, our general counsel, mentioned that the OMA’s legislative efforts in Salem comprise so much work that no one knows about. I really really want that to change! During my Presidency I will strive to inform every Oregon healthcare provider what the OMA does for them. It starts with this: The OMA is the physician’s ONLY voice in Salem. Whether it’s corporate pharmacies inappropriately dispensing antibiotics in pseudo-travel medicine programs, non-physicians trying to practice well beyond their scope of practice or mis-written senate bills shifting obstetric care entirely West of the Cascades, the OMA is there, tirelessly advocating for the betterment of us all.
You may think this is all so intimidating… what can I as a single healthcare provider do? We can all become engaged that’s what!
It is no longer enough to be a great provider… engagement and participation in the state of healthcare are imperatives for us all.
Engagement does not have to be all-encompassing. Every OMA member counts, and every engagement can lead to further progress...
I thank my professional partners… some are here at their first OMA event (whatever brings you to the party my friends!)… Two of my partners, John Zelko & David O’Brien have each approached me with novel ideas to advance OMA engagement with our members. I in turn contacted our OMA administrators to turn those ideas into action items… & of course nominated John and David to take the lead. I tell you beware! This is an active organization… for those ready to participate… I’m putting a jersey on you and you’re going in the game!
In contrast, ambivalence & apathy in the face of adversity would result in our decent into irrelevance… which we cannot afford… and that is NOT who we are.
It starts from the top… we do see further because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Those giants are our senior members who have been through and seen a lot. They guide us with a priceless institutional memory that helps us navigate around pitfalls and weather storms of uncertainty. Those senior members are not our only potent resource. Eager young physicians and medical students comprise an enthusiastic cohort capable of influencing colleagues and advancing causes. 4th year medical student Xiao-Yue Han is one of the most undaunted and impassioned students I have come across in quite some time. He’s a rock solid member of the board of trustees… and I’m not sure how you connect with so many colleagues of yours… but with 500 students dancing the night away at the Foundation scholarship celebration last month… you must be doing something right. After attending Megan Furnari’s break out session this morning I realize that (Xiao-Yue) you are indeed special… but you are not alone and are surrounded by some amazing co-students!
(Will all the students and residents in attendance please stand… Thank you for your participation. There is a leadership role for each of you in this organization RIGHT NOW and I would love to meet with each of you before you depart today.)
Then there’s Eddie Herzig. Eddie’s not even old enough to drive. When he was 14 (last year) he wrote a bill persuading our state legislature to restrict marketing of marijuana similar to limitations on alcohol and tobacco and presented it at the OMA board of trustees. Now state representative Knute Buehler is championing the bill in Salem. I’m not saying that you need to pen a legislative bill as a grade schooler to launch your career in improving the health of all Oregonians… but I must admit… it’s not a bad way to start.
Physician Wellness & Public Health (Mental Health & Opioids)
While I have emphasized our legislative efforts and engagement in our great organization, I haven’t lost appreciation for all of our attempts to address mental health care discrepancies, efforts to curb the opioid epidemic and interventions to address physician burnout.
As an ER physician and county commissioner, Dr. Sharon Meieran has worked exhaustively to focus attention on the deficiencies in mental health services in our community and potential solutions. Victories have been won, but we have so far to go in adequately addressing this ubiquitous issue.
For years we have been tackling the opioid epidemic in our state. However this is a difficult tide to turn due to entrenched practice patterns and patient expectations. We are seeing glimpses of hope in certain areas and with the recent declaration of the epidemic as a national public health emergency hopefully it will receive the full attention needed to once and for all extinguish it.
Likewise, although it has been a long time coming, I’m proud of all of the local and statewide programs in place addressing physician burnout. This is a crippling issue affecting over ½ of the physician workforce and it takes courage to seek help. More and more programs are affecting change and this needs to continue. As more attention is focused on this problem, its causes and potential solutions, I have faith that we can achieve success in putting the joy back into medicine… because we have to!
While addressing all of these challenges we need to maintain focus on preparing the next generation to whom the baton will be passed to carry on our efforts. Fortunately, mentoring is something physicians in the OMA do best!
I am honored that my former program director and mentor Dr. Karen Deveney accepted my request for her to introduce me today. She has led by example with perseverance and grit her entire career and then provided those of us who have followed with opportunity. A few years back, (quite a few years back actually) while interviewing for medical school at UC San Francisco, she was sternly asked “What is woman of your mature years doing applying for medical school?” She was 23. “What are you going to do if you don’t get it in?” She replied “I’ll be back next year… don’t think you can get rid of me that easily?!” The rest is history. Stellar tenures at UC San Francisco, the US Army, U Penn and OHSU have resulted in her attaining iconic status in American surgical education—and she has taken it upon herself to provide me and many others opportunities throughout my professional career. She nominated and sponsored me for the medical honor society Alpha Omega Alpha while I was a resident, and more recently led my candidacy for membership in the Pacific Coast Surgical Association. We continue to collaborate on resident educational endeavors locally and advancement of surgical causes at the national level. She embodies the OMA spirit of leadership and mentorship and I can’t thank her enough.
Call to Action
As a call to action I thank all of you in attendance today for your engagement of our organization and I challenge you to let others know how vital this organization is to our profession and our state’s healthcare.
I’ll lead by example, through outreach, and with the omnipotent support of physicians seeking to improve their community both locally and statewide.
If the past year is any indication, we are in for another exciting year full of challenges and opportunities. Let’s embrace those!
I am humbled, honored and privileged to serve as your President and am truly excited for all that we can accomplish in the year ahead. Thank you.