AOA HOD Delegates afraid to speak up. Why?

One cry from several peers on the floor of the HOD at AOA this week was where was the support from within. People were afraid to stand up for their rights because they “get silenced while speaking, cut off by chairs that use Robert’s Rules to funnel dissent to the sidelines indefinitely or terminate discussions so that members are not permitted to explore the issues more fully”. Once their opposition has been registered ” They are often not invited back to sit as delegates.” In that environment compromise is not an option.

In order to have an organized mechanism we need to make a space available where people can speak freely and not have their opinions subject to scrutiny by their national organizations. “There are multiple examples of our professional organizations actually working toward academic censure over the past 20 years with individuals who speak out against current policy.”

We will not move forward without doing something to alleviate this irrational fear response that has successfully been used to shut down oppositional opinions from coming to the fore.

A web blog that is by invitation only, set up in such a way that each person can select an avatar by which to be represented that is not traceable back to them professionally, could make this possible.

I personally don’t have any reason for an avatar because I have little left to lose except my reputation among those who have all but disappeared. Even if I was at risk from within an organization in losing my positions, I am and will be committed to full access for patients to care options and to independent physician practice without third party interference.

There are many that are not yet able to make that kind of commitment but if they had a chance to be heard without retribution they might be more inclined to speak.

The above is a very clear representation of the feedback I received this weekend during the “heat in the kitchen”. There is no route for compromise through the system as it is now operating. Push back from outside must get more organized and focused. Participants from the inside, must develop a means of speaking their minds freely and without risk to their professional core beliefs or their ability to participate, just because they don’t agree.

Democracy is not just an idea, it is a way of being and acting. This needs to be re-secured or we will be doomed to failure in our most important tasks, freedom to treat a patient with what they need with all the tools that we have when necessary.

Respectfully yours in service to our community,

Charles J Smutny III, DO, FAAO

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