Get Involved or Someone Else Will Decide for You

Jill Owens, MD

When Jill Owens, MD, a family physician in the rural town of Bradford, Pa., and a 15-year member of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED), was a resident at St. Vincent Health Center (Erie) she attended her first organized medicine meeting and learned the importance of being involved.

It was at this meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP) that she recalls being intrigued about all of the issues that affect family physicians, their practices, and their patients, and the great opportunity physicians have to get involved and help shape the future of medicine.

“Seeing the issues that impact physicians and patients on a day-to-day basis, particularly malpractice reform and access to care, being addressed and dealt with is certainly encouraging to a young physician. It told me that someone is listening to us and working on our issues,” said Dr. Owens.

After returning to her hometown of Bradford to start her practice, she became active with the McKean County Medical Society. She is now vice president of the county society, has been a delegate at PAMED’s annual House of Delegates meeting in Hershey for many years, and is immediate past chair of PAMED’s Young Physicians Section.

To her colleagues who say they don’t have the time to get involved in the efforts of organized medicine, Dr. Owens has the following advice.

“It’s true without a doubt that medicine is busy, we all have busy practices, and it’s tough to make the time to get involved,” said Dr. Owens. “But, I think we as physicians have to make the time because if we don’t step up and get involved, someone else is going to make those decisions for us. If that happens, the outcomes may not be beneficial for us and certainly not for our patients.”

Dr. Owens recommends several ways physicians can get involved:

  • Join PAMED.
  • Contact colleagues in your area who are involved and get involved in your local medical society.
  • Advocate to your local, state, and federal legislators about issues that affect you, your practice, and your patients and make sure your voice is heard.
  • Support PAMED’s Political Action Committee (PAMPAC).
  • Focus on not only improving patient care, but also improving population health and shaping health care reform on a larger scale.

Find more ways to get involved.

“It’s challenging balancing work and family, but it’s important for me to get involved so my kids have access to good medical care and hospitals as they grow up. It’s important for me to find the time to advocate for things like that so I can help ensure that quality rural care and access are maintained for them. If it’s good enough for my kids, it’s good enough for the community.”

Dr. Owens is a family physician at Bradford Family Medicine. She has been a PAMED member since 1997.