President’s Blog: AMA (WA) culture is worth fighting for: we are the profession | AMA (WA)



President’s Blog: AMA (WA) culture is worth fighting for: we are the profession

Friday November 17, 2023

Dr Michael Page, AMA (WA) President

At a couple of recent events, I’ve had the great pleasure of welcoming many of our new 2024 intern members to the AMA (WA) family. I frequently reflect on the glue that binds the medical profession together so strongly despite our diverse range of personalities and forms of practice. I believe that it’s our strong sense and culture of responsibility and accountability for patient outcomes.  

Whilst it’s true that interns do not bear the final responsibility for patient outcomes, nonetheless this culture is learnt as a medical student, and baked in as an intern. Whether it’s clerking a new patient while the rest of the team is in theatre, being tasked with getting a cannula in or making decisions about deteriorating patients, interns quickly learn that within their scope and domain, the buck stops with them. Of course, adequate senior support and supervision must be readily to hand.  

Carrying the level of responsibility that quickly becomes apparent as a doctor has some major downsides: stress and burnout. Isolation is to be avoided. In medical school, many students develop close friendships. These can shift and change after commencing internship: by separation into different hospitals; through the process of specialisation (which begins very early for many – a topic for another blog post); and by mixing in with cohorts of interns from different universities.  

But we maintain that common culture, and it prevents us from becoming isolated. We can assume it will always exist, but external forces can erode it: employers with divide-and-conquer approaches to workforce management, task substitution, and disillusionment with poor government and executive leadership, to name a few. Internally, we have some historically-rooted challenges, too. So, our culture needs to be actively fostered, developed and strengthened. That is the role of the AMA (WA).  

I firmly believe that the AMA (WA) is not some niche subset of the medical profession: we are the profession. We are the only group that represents all doctors. I’m not blind to the fact that not all doctors are members, and some of our members disagree with us on various issues from time to time, or can feel underrepresented. We need to be aware of these facts and act on them.  

But we exist because we must, and rather than taking that for granted, we have to continually prove our value by finding the common ground, promoting the standing of the entire medical profession, and fostering the best parts of its culture. Being an AMA (WA) member is to have a stake in the future success of our profession, enabling us in turn to maintain the best standards of healthcare for the entire community. 


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