Ep 21: Excellent Healthcare Occurs Inside a Physician’s Lane
Despite me not being a big online influencer or celebrity, I need to share with my followers an important situation that impacts us all. It deals with what physicians should be allowed to do and what is in a “physician’s lane”. (Be sure to listen to the actual podcast for more details)
So what exactly is this topic about?
Yes, the National Rifle Association has put physicians in their crosshairs…so to speak.
- This group has been resisting all attempts at improving gun control. Resisting for years.
- Gun violence and mass shootings continue to skyrocket in the United States
- Politicians have not made any progress in fixing this problem which is costing thousands of lives. Lives that physicians work hard to save.
The gun control issue is NOT about taking everyone’s guns!
- It is about decreasing gun violence.
- It is about getting the use of guns closer to the days when they were used as intended for hunting, sport, and protection of our families. And of course, protecting our country.
- Previously, this did not need the use of automatic or semiautomatic weapons, nor monster sized clips of ammunition. Why does it now?
Why did the NRA target physicians?
Because the gun violence issue has continued unchecked, physicians have started weighing in on the problem. Why? Because it impacts us every single day.
AND THEN, the NRA decided to lecture physicians about joining this debate. They posted a condescending, frankly uneducated tweet, telling physicians to stay in their lane, which according to them, does not include the gun violence issue.
Physicians are too educated and dedicated to our duties for the NRA to try to pigeonhole us. The NRA does ONE thing, but WE are multitalented AND can multitask like no other.
- So now, physicians are here to educate the public AND the NRA.
- Pediatrician Daniel Summers wrote an excellent post which summarizes our stance.
But, what exactly did physicians do which angered the NRA?
The straw that apparently broke the NRA back was when a medical journal posted a way for physicians on the grassroots level to reduce the risk of gun violence.
Physicians simply recommended questions that their colleagues should ask in their offices in order to increase awareness about gun safety.
Pediatricians and family physicians routinely ask questions about child safety. Keeping homes safe and potentially dangerous items out of the reach of kids is what we do.
The NRA objects to guns being added to the safety checklist!
In fact, the NRA also supported a Florida Law (that was overturned in Federal court) that wanted to prevent physicians from being able to discuss guns with their patients! WHAAAAT?
What was the NRA’s specific problem with what the physicians did?
I am a pediatric physician, so helping to protect innocent kids rings loudly to me. There have been so many discussions about ways to reduce gun violence that have gone nowhere…BECAUSE at every turn, the NRA lobbies politicians to block funding to research gun violence.
This means that large studies cannot be done! Yes since 1996, federal law blocks the CDC from performing research that could result in any type of gun advocacy.
If large studies were able to be done, the NRA knows they won’t like the results; therefore, their successful plan has been to continue blocking research!
So, physicians moved forward to do what they could. Something is better than nothing. Using the trends seen in the small studies that were able to be done, physicians started their gun safety awareness campaign.
The NRA flipped their lid and said because the recommendations were not made with data from large studies, the recommendations were not valid. And then they said their infamous line: Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.
Excellent healthcare occurs inside a physician’s lane
First of all, do you think the NRA has ANY idea how massive, how epic, in size our lane is? I highly doubt it
- Years of medical school and residency successfully trained each of us how to protect our lane.
- Our lane is lined with physician soldiers from all specialties, standing shoulder to shoulder trying to block things from getting into our lane.
- But once something gets in, we work tirelessly to get it out.
Every day our lane is clogged with things like cancer treatment and research, Alzehiemers, and autism. We are tackling the obesity epidemic. When a global health crisis pop up, like the Ebola and Zika viruses, our teams jump into action to fix it AND prevent it AND get it back out of our lane!
You see, every issue has its own lane. And as long as things come and go out of our lane, we simply do our job and keep moving forward.
Yes, gun violence has always been a visitor to our lane; however, it recently has parked dead center in the middle of our lane and challenged us to do something about it. Well, challenge accepted!
Globally, physicians have shown the NRA that THIS IS OUR LANE!
Since that offensive NRA post which tried to tell us how to do our jobs, I have been busy on social media supporting my fellow physicians in educating everyone about what is in OUR LANE.
- I have been liking and sharing Facebook posts, liking and retweeting Twitter posts.
- We now have our own hashtag #ThisIsOurLane with our own dedicated Twitter account
- Trauma surgeons and ER physicians have been posting pictures of their legs and shoes covered in blood while attempting to save the lives of gun violence victims.
- While we are trying to do our daily jobs, gun violence is getting in our way. We would love it to NOT be in our lane. But it is what it is. And we must do what we have to do.
I am a US Army Veteran who trained using assault rifles, AND back in the day, I earned a sharpshooter medal using an M16 rifle. I trained with mass casualty drills because in war, massive injuries caused by these destructive weapons were expected and we needed to be prepared.
However, our city hospitals, our children’s hospitals, in this country should not need these drills. Sadly, our country is turning into a war zone.
Gun Violence is a huge United States problem
There is a difference between public health and global health.
My daughter is doing incredible work with people across the world to address the sanitation crisis. The lack of toilets is a universal issue that great minds need to work together to solve. It is happening in developing nations, but it is also happening here in the greatest country on earth.
I have recently learned that Georgia Tech (where both my daughters went to school) has researched this same issue right here in Atlanta due to homeless people not having access to safe sanitation. This impacts us all and puts our health at risk. Sanitation is indeed a global issue
But gun violence is NOT a global health crisis. It is a United States health crisis. Other countries have stricter gun laws, and they just shake their heads at our crisis.
My new online social media physician friends have shared that when they trained in the United States, gun violence was a major issue and an important part of their education. But after moving back home to places like Canada or Austalia, they do not see the issue anymore!
Of course, there will always be catastrophic events, but these should be unexpected and unusual compared to expected and predictable as it is in the United States.
Addressing gun violence is NOT a political issue
Somehow, in the United States, everything is felt to be a political statement. We have had a two party democracy forever; however, recently, we feel we must pick a side and stay there all the time. No compromise or understanding.
Well, I am here to tell you, gun violence is NOT a political issue. Do you think Republicans are the only ones who own guns? Not a chance. But as our times have changed, we have more people doing things with them that did not use to happen.
In response to the NRA attack, both Republican and Democratic physicians banded together and lashed out on social media at this unwelcome commentary from the NRA. Very quickly, tens of thousands of physicians signed an open letter to the NRA. This letter sincerely invited the organization to join us in performing extensive research to find answers to gun violence.
Have not heard from them yet.
How big is a physician’s lane?
For those who think might physicians are out of our lane, let me take a few minutes to remind you exactly HOW this is our lane. We are doing nothing different from what we have done in the past or what we will continue to do in the future.
There are too many topics to cover, but let’s go down memory lane to discuss a few.
One of the most important global health inventions ever. No more dying of preventable diseases. Huge numbers of diseases were eradicated. Physicians and public health scientists solved a crisis, improved health and unclogged our lane from these repeated illnesses.
- AND THEN, the Antivax revolution arose. People forgot when our lanes used to be filled with dying children. Now we are seeing a rise in childhood deaths and the recurrence of diseases we have not seen in many years.
- How do we respond? Physicians do what we do. We educate.
Seat belts and Speed limits:
- By wearing seatbelts, creating child car seats and lowering the speed limit, countless lives have been saved.
- I grew up lying down in the back of a station wagon while my family barreled down highways at over 70 miles per hour! It was not safe at all. But we did not know any better.
- Once research was done and results were publicized, lives were saved. When you know better, you should do better!
A topic that is near and dear to all of our hearts!
- As our obesity epidemic grew and heart disease increased, it became an issue that was clogging up OUR lane.
- Research was done and regulations occurred so that the food industry had to do their part.
- Foods were then labeled to list ingredients and calorie counts.
- So yes, you can eat what you want….BUT now you know better.
- When physicians educate our patients about staying healthy, this keeps our lane cleared.
- Big tobacco was an unruly beast for many years and was responsible for countless preventable deaths due to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
- I remember watching Joe Camel sell cigarettes on TV, he was so cool. Who didn’t want to be like Joe?
- Cigarette machines were in every restaurant so you could buy a pack and smoke whenever and wherever you wanted
- Reeling in the tobacco industry by public health officials and physicians was an incredibly successful partnership
- Regulations were put on who can buy the cigarettes, trying to protect our kids as well as WHERE smoking can happen, protecting people who choose not to smoke.
- Tobacco will always be a part of life and anyone can choose to use these products, but our lane was significantly cleared by getting rid of these health consequences
- Once we cleared our lanes from uncontrolled cigarette use, big tobacco returned to its own lane, wherever it was. We took our eyes off them.
- But they silently regroup and invented the e-cigarettes which have slowly increased in use and began addicting our kids.
- Physicians and public health researchers have recently caught on because we are seeing these people filling our lane again. But new research is underway to control the use of these e-cigarettes by unsuspecting people
- I recently wrote a post about e-cigarettes because these new products are being marketed to kids who think they are safe. No one knew there was a 3-4 times greater risk that their e-cigarette addiction will cause them to become a cigarette addicted user.
What does the NRA want physicians to focus on?
The NRA is allowing ongoing gun violence by refusing to support the necessary research to find answers.
Americans have asked, actually begged the NRA and politicians to help get this epidemic under control. Any regulations that can get gun violence out of our lane would be helpful.
But no…the NRA’s main suggestion has been to focus on mental health. Well speaking of staying in your own lane, what does the NRA know about what WE do for mental health?
- Mental health has been a priority item on our to-do list for many years. We ARE working on it because it is clogging our lane!
- But mental health issues have been around for a long time, just like guns have. What has changed? The type of weapons available and the type of ammunition that can be used.
- While WE continue to work on mental health as a major public health crisis, we still need better gun control to avoid the loss of innocent lives, whether they are used by someone with mental health issues or not.
But it seems as soon as anyone suggests gun regulations, the NRA revolts like a momma bear protecting her cub!
I get it. I’m a mom and would fight you over my kids. But if my kids turned into monsters, I would be forced to tame them.
The NRA has not tamed the gun violence beast. And their baby has swelled to a level that no one is safe around it. Not in your church or synagogue. Nor in a nightclub or bar. Not even in schools or workplaces. Nowhere.
What happens next?
Physicians have become very riled up over this issue, but perhaps it was just an oversight on the part of the NRA, where they did not fully understand what IS in our lane.
Everything we do, we do in the best interest of public health and safety. So now, with this education, I believe physicians are owed an apology. Although we do not need one to keep moving forward with our work, an apology would be a good way to end this senseless feud. This IS our Lane.
I stand with physicians in supporting the work that we as a group do to help end gun violence, and we will continue to police our epic-sized lane.
But the next step is for the NRA to accept our invitation to join us in performing meaningful research to help us solve this gun violence epidemic.
As always, much love for supporting my work. I will be adding many more posts to highlight parenting and healthcare tips, so be sure to consider subscribing to my podcast or to my blog to avoid missing a post!