My Letter to the President After Listening to his Press Conference

Mr. President,

I am writing to you today as a physician, a patient, a mother, and as an American voter.

It is difficult for me to put into words how deeply hurtful your characterization of physicians during your most recent press conference was, both professionally and personally. Your portrayal of the American physician as self-serving was both inaccurate and counter-productive.

The vast majority of physicians in this nation hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical behavior- I believe I speak for my colleagues when I state that I care not only for the physical health of my patients, but also care deeply about how my medical recommendations impact their financial health. To imply that I, or any of my colleagues, would routinely consult a fee schedule before making a medical decision implies that we value our pocketbooks over our patients’ welfare.

I sincerely hope that this is not the opinion you want the American public to have of the individuals who have sacrificed their youth in the service of others, missed many a night with their own children in order to care for another’s, worked repeated 30 hour shifts with no breaks or sleep for what amounts to minimum wage, amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in educational debt… all to have the privilege of becoming a physician. If Americans can’t have faith in their physicians, who will they turn to when they need care and counsel- their elected officials in Washington?

I still consider it an honor to be able to go to work every day with the confidence that my medical training and experience give me a unique set of skills that truly contribute to the greater good. I felt that way when I cared for your own daughter, and I feel the same way now as a Board-Certified Allergist and Immunologist, caring for adults and children with asthma, allergy, and immune deficiency. I know that my colleagues similarly value their respective opportunities to preserve and improve the health of the American people.

Your recent words have expressed to Americans your low opinion of those who have committed their lives to the health of the nation. Although this slight may have been intended as an example only, the end result was the mischaracterization of a noble profession. When the President stands in front of the nation and essentially claims that physicians are the ones who ail us rather than heal us, it is difficult to find hope for the future of healthcare in America.

Mr. President, I believe you owe the nation’s physicians an apology. I recognize that you do not need the votes of physicians to stay in office, or even to pass the current version of healthcare reform. That’s not what this is about.

To adapt a famous quote: “Mr. President, you have bigger problems than losing my vote. You just lost me as your physician.”

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