The National Lipid Association – A Glimmer of Hope

The field of Medicine is undeniably in turmoil. Patients are unhappy with long wait times in doctors offices coupled with ever shortening visits with their physicians. Doctors are dismayed by their unprecedented spike in “busy work,” instigated predominantly by insurance companies and governmental mandates. The fallout from more time spent on paperwork is of course less time spent with patients. There are after all only 24 hours in a day.  So it is eminently fair to say that neither doctors nor patients find themselves happy with the current course Medicine is following. Oftentimes outlooks are so bad that many of us in the field feel there is no hope. In essence we believe the battle has been lost; there is no chance of recovery.

Enter the National Lipid Association (NLA). Currently boasting over 3,000 active members, the NLA is a group of diverse doctors, nurses, dietitians, scientists, and exercise physiologists whose governing goal in participating in the organization is to improve healthcare. I just returned from the 2014 Annual NLA meetings in Orlando Florida and was once again struck by the authenticity of this sentiment. Meetings began as early as 6 AM and extended well into the evening hours. And the seats were not bare. They were filled by groups of highly focused and engaged individuals. Ranging from Cholesterol Guideline discussions, to basic science talks on drugs’ mechanisms of action, to lectures reinforcing the need to amplify our efforts to identify and treat patients with the not so rare but highly lethal disorder Familial Hypercholesterolemia, the topics were fascinating and irrefutably pragmatic. The attendees were riveted. Side conversations were plentiful, including promises of new clinical trials and better ways to help our patients. The pace was quick and the excitement, palpable. All this at a medical meeting!

Although uniformly doctors are troubled by Medicine’s fall from grace, rays of hope were clearly visible at the NLA meeting. Beneath our acrimony doctors, nurses, and others in medicine still have at their core the desire to help. We genuinely want to be the ones who people look to during their oftentimes-darkest moments. We also most definitively strive to keep people from experiencing such grim periods. The best way to achieve these goals is to continuously learn. Curiosity, inquiry, dialogue, knowledge, and caring are the cornerstones of the practice of Medicine. And these are the elements that beat at the heart of the National Lipid Association.

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  1. Brian Edwards MD May 5, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    I agree that the NLA is a wonderful organization. I am privileged to be a lifetime member. I owned my own Internal Medicine practice for 20 years. I loved it, but when I became an employee of a Hospital I found I made more money and worked less. Then hospitalists became the standard and I no longer had to admit patients in the middle of the night.

    Despite the gloom and doom Seth paints of practicing medicine now, I see a great improvement for the physicians lifestyle. I think the increasing ranks of female physicians has helped Doctors concentrate less on money and more on their personal lives. This is a good thing.

    If people and organizations don’t plan to change they plan to fail.

    My 20 years in private practice were in small towns of 10,000 people with a small hospital and ICU. As the Internist I was usually given the sickest patient. Often these patients had no insurance. I never checked to see if they did. When I began working for the Hospital in my last 10 years, I knew I was paid for every patient I saw.

    The Medical system was broken and I do not lament the loss of those good old days. 12 million people have been signed up this year because of Obamacare. If all the states had expanded Medicaid it would have been many more. Subsidies help people who don’t qualify for Medicaid buy insurance. The goal is to get as many people as possible covered with GOOD Medical Insurance. This is a good thing.

    In 2008, The Medical Insurance industry, the Hospital Association Industry, the Pharmaceutical industry and JAMA compromised and agreed to ACA.

    While some waiting rooms may be fuller and Doctors more efficient in delivering more focused care with less time for talk, remember the 48 million American who did not have medical insurance and had to wait in ER’s and face Medical bankruptcy. I think the transition while rocky is not very bad as 80% of people had no change in their medical insurance. In 1979, I remember the revolution in medicine with HMO’s stealing many Physicians patients in NYC. Patients assumed quality of care and went to where the policy charged less. Change is inexorable.

    My son, was just accepted to LSU after trying for 10 years. My family is ecstatic.

    Ask yourself how much time did you spend on the business side of your private practice?
    Use that time now to study more and concentrating on patients.
    Remember when physicians wives never worked outside the home. Things change.

    Child of the World
    Leave fools to their foolishness
    Mules to their muleishness
    And things to their nature
    Berries were bitter in forests of yore.

  2. susan dimick June 3, 2014 at 12:55 am #

    The NLA is to be congratulated. I agree with you Dr. Baum. The meetings are invigorating. Energy, purpose, passion, brilliance and yes indeed curiosity, dialogue and knowledge. Patient care is paramount, and science leads the process. Where else do all of the NLA staff know the attendees by name, and encourage each to take the challenge to become certified, to publish, and to become as effective and accomplished in the field as they can be. Yes Sandra, Clark, Allison and all the rest of you, you know who I am talking about.
    The organization is small enough to be personal, diverse enough to be practical, and rigorous enough to attract an international audience. The NLA strives to serve the medical community and to attract others to the excitement and intensity of purpose of what we are learning. I think It is not about whether we work for hospitals, ourselves, or whether we have more time off or a better income.It is about our patients and what we can learn that will change lives. These meetings are full from 6am till 10pm because the NLA members want to return home and be better Doctors, nurses, dietitians and pharmacists. .I love this organization. Keep up the great work, all of you who make the NLA what it is.

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