Members of the College:
Whew! You made it to the Summer. Although I have looked forward to the challenge and honor of representing you all during this year, everything I had come to expect from my Presidential term has completely been upended. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the health and lives of our family, friends, and co-workers but, it has caused us to sequester ourselves at home, not being able to see people important in our lives; it has affected our salaries, threatened the stability of our practices, affected the way each of us do business. We have had to give up vacation travel, recreational activities, religious services, and ACOOG conferences! Since businesses have been closed, and millions have been laid off, we have been thrust into the biggest economic recession since the Great Depression. And although the initial infection “curve” has flattened in most states, a secondary surge of cases has begun, and Infectious Disease experts predict that COVID-19 will be a reality that will be with us for the foreseeable future.
With the backdrop of COVID, we then watched in horror as police officers in Minneapolis subdued an unarmed George Floyd, and kneeled on his neck for almost 9 minutes. This episode sparked weeks of protests across the country, some of which turned violent, reminding us of our country’s racist roots. What should have been an opportunity to open a dialogue for healing became, instead, a trigger for even more violence against our black and brown brothers and sisters. On the eve of June-teenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the South at the end of the Civil War, the celebration somehow rings hollow. We should do better. We need to do better. What can we do on our part? Let’s get more black and brown professionals by attracting more kids to medicine. We need STEM programs that will attract kids where they live. We need programs to help overcome some of the racial biases in standardized testing inherent in the MCAT, while simultaneously examining the MCAT and trying to fix it. Then we need fair recruitment programs for medical schools to promote diversity and help with financial disparities. I refer you to the ACOOG statement on the Black Lives Matter movement published earlier this June.
And, of course, 2020 is an election year, which sometimes gets lost due to all the COVID and recession coverage. And there is a lot riding on the vote this year: not only are all 435 House of Representative seats up for grabs, but 35 of 100 Senate seats, and of course, the Presidential election looms large. Whatever your politics, it is imperative to have your voice heard and vote. There could be two more Supreme Court Justices who retire in the next 4 years. Roe v. Wade or large portions of it could be brought before the Supreme Court for review, and could potentially be overturned, and this could affect (directly or indirectly) each and every member of the college. The current administration has cut funding to many organizations that we all should be concerned about: the NIH, which is the steward of medical and behavioral research for the Nation; the CDC, which conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise; Planned Parenthood, which provides STD testing and treatment, birth control, well-woman exams, cancer screening and prevention, hormone therapy, infertility services, and general health care (less than 3% of funds go to abortion service, and NO federal funds go to abortion); the National Cancer Institute, ACA, Medicare, and the EPA. We also need to keep the budgetary target off of Residency funding, to avoid a “pay-to-play” situation, pushing medical education costs from the hundreds of thousands of dollars into the millions.
The college had phenomenal leadership from our previous President, Tom Dardarian, who enjoys lobbying and being an advocate for OBGYNs and for DOs in Pennsylvania and in Washington DC. We should emulate Dr. Dardarian and meet with our local lawmakers, expressing our needs, our displeasure at the legislation of medical care, and getting involved, in general. My Presidential platform is two-fold: one of advocacy and education. Find a CAUSE and ADVOCATE for it. Then get involved in teaching SOMEONE. Give back in these two ways.
So, this year is going to be different. Unpredictable. Undoubtedly annoying. But it doesn’t have to control your lives. Be proactive. Participate, “virtually.” Stay connected. And thank you again for allowing me the honor to serve you for the next year!
Patrick J. Woodman, DO, MS; FACS, FACOOG (Dist.)
President - American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians & Gynecologists 2020-2021
Ascension Macomb - Oakland Hospital OBGYN
Clinical Professor, Osteopathic Surgical Specialties
Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine