Board of Governors

November 2017 – Vol. 36, No. 10

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Spencer C. Payne, MD Chair, BOG Governance & Society Engagement Committee

Spencer C. Payne, MD

Spencer C. Payne, MD

I have to chuckle a little as I write this with my wife beside me, accusing me of having said “yes” to one more thing. “Why do you do this [to yourself]?” she asks. To an extent, she has a point. I, as well as most of my colleagues, have perhaps overextended myself, signing on for just one more thing. But when I look at all the things in which I am engaged, why would it be the most recent “yes” that catches the ire? More on that later.

When I think about the myriad decisions I currently make throughout the day, I wonder if most of them involve direct patient care. Perhaps, maybe on a good day. Anyone can turn to Doximity, KevinMD, or your blog of choice and find a statistic indicating that physician burnout is on the rise. Those in private practice must contemplate how to afford serving their patients while also employing the staff required to meet government regulations. Those in academics are finding the erosion of our “free” time, as decreasing reimbursements force us into more “room turns” and less time to pursue research endeavors. And then there is the continual threat of one health system buying another and what that means for the stability of whatever practice model currently best describes yours.

Regardless of the scenario, we have all felt a loss of autonomy—a sense that our decisions are no longer our own—and that in many ways our common sense has been eschewed for a statistical analysis of the best available evidence. It is frustrating, demoralizing, and it leads to a despair that for many begets a failure to do what we started out doing in the first place: providing the best ear, nose, and throat care that we can.

This month we acknowledge those who serve the Academy on any one of the 72 committees that fight to keep what I have just described from happening. So why am I writing this brief article? Why did I add one more thing to my list? Because what the more than 1,400 individuals who participate on these committees do is amazing, and they deserve our praise and our future partnership. Despite everything else that may be weighing on their minds and souls, they have committed extra time and energy to ensuring that our lives as ENT surgeons may be a little bit more in our control and to providing the resources that enable us to provide the best ear, nose, and throat care.

So, when my wife asks, “Why are you doing THIS?” my only response can be, “Because I have to.” And, “If not me, then who, and if not now, then when.” I’ll give up something else, and I ask you to do the same when the committee applications open and you are wondering if you should apply!