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A Successful Transition from Clinical Medicine to Health Policy

Jay K Joshi, MD MBA writes about Dr. Jeffrey Singer, and his transition from clinical medicine to health policy.

June 27, 2024

The decision to transition from clinical medicine can be daunting for physicians considering entering health policy. It’s not just a career shift; it’s a shift in mindset and priorities.

So, how do you know when the time is right?

One key factor to consider is experience.

Experience is crucial in the transition from practicing medicine to shaping health policy. Physicians who have spent years in clinical practice bring a wealth of medical knowledge and a profound understanding of the complexities within the healthcare system. This firsthand experience allows them to effectively advocate for patients and healthcare providers when crafting policies that address the challenges faced in providing quality care.

Another critical factor is having a deep interest in moral and political philosophy and the philosophical principles underpinning good public policy.

 

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The intersection of medicine and public policy presents a unique opportunity for physicians to influence decision-making at a higher level.

While physicians may provide expert testimony to lawmakers on health policy, political agendas mustn’t drive their policy proposals but rather a genuine desire to improve overall health and well-being while respecting human rights.

Thus, combining experience and expertise positions physicians as valuable assets in health policy, where their insights and voices can contribute to meaningful change in the healthcare landscape.

“I don’t take a partisan political stance,” emphasized Dr. Jeff Singer. “Instead, I aim to apply fundamental ethical principles to current scientific knowledge to propose best practices and advocate for policies that respect individual autonomy and maximize health freedom.”

 

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Dr. Singer, a distinguished surgeon who sought counsel from his colleagues before delving into health policy, underscores that health policy differs significantly from politics.

He is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute’s Department of Health Policy Studies. He is President Emeritus and the founder of Valley Surgical Clinics Ltd., Arizona’s largest and oldest private surgical practice group. He has sustained a distinguished career in private general surgery for over 35 years.

In addition to his role at the Cato Institute, Dr. Singer is a Visiting Fellow at the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix. He serves on the Board of Scientific Advisors for the American Council on Science and Health. Between 1994 and 2016, he was an active contributor to Arizona Medicine, the Journal of the Arizona Medical Association. From 2014 to 2018, he also served on the Advisory Board Council for Arizona State University’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership.

 

“Dr. Singer, a distinguished surgeon who sought counsel from his colleagues before delving into health policy, underscores that health policy differs significantly from politics.”

 

He successfully transitioned from clinical medicine to health policy despite concerns about potential repercussions from political and regulatory bodies. He also feared it might adversely impact his income by reducing referrals to his surgical practice.

Another essential aspect to consider is the potential backlash. As mentioned earlier, speaking out on social and political issues can sometimes lead to professional repercussions that can be far more extensive than most realize. Before making the transition, assessing potential risks and having a solid support system in place is essential.

Ultimately, the decision to transition from clinical medicine to health policy is deeply personal. It requires careful consideration, self-reflection, and a willingness to step outside one’s comfort zone. For physicians passionate about effecting positive change on a larger scale, the transition can be incredibly rewarding. Remember, it’s not about playing politics; it’s about using your expertise to advocate for better healthcare for all.

 

(You can watch, or listen to, Dr. Singer in an episode with Dr. Jay Joshi, in our new SERIES Stigmatized. Episode can be watched, or listened to, soon. Subscribe here and receive our latest articles and episodes, right at your inbox)

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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