Kristy Hawley, MD, MPH is currently a resident physician in Baltimore, Maryland. Kristy received her medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and is finishing her first year of general surgery residency training. In medical school she was involved in BRI for four years and served as Vice President, President and as an MS4 Advisor. Kristy is now a Resident member of BRI. She enjoys patient care, operating and the independence that residency brings. She found an outlet to continue her public health work through the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS). She is currently part of a work-group that focuses on opioid policy and legislation for the College. Kristy also works on a RAS-ACS opioid survey group that has developed a survey on opioid prescribing practices and education among residents with the intention of publishing findings to help inform policy needs around resident education. Finally, Kristy was recently invited to join as an advisor for an ACS-wide task force working on developing professional and patient education programs regarding opioids and surgery. The views shared here express Kristy’s personal views and not the views of her employer.
During my Masters of Public Health (MPH) studies in graduate school we were asked to become intellectually curious and challenge the status quo. We learned how to ask tough questions about medical studies or new health policies being proposed. My alma mater is the proud home of the Dartmouth Atlas, which produced tremendous insight into the field of healthcare cost variation. This was revolutionary at the time and created waves in the policy community. In graduate school we were told that we have the potential to devise an improved healthcare system where doctors continue to enjoy the profession and patients flourish. We debated different policy topics and looked directly to the evidence in an open and respectful environment. The year during my MPH studies was a year of great intellectual growth, and I felt empowered to explore varying viewpoints.
“My most memorable experience with BRI—and its greatest contribution to my professional and personal growth—was twice attending on scholarship the Free Market Medical Association (FMMA) conference in Oklahoma City.” ~Dr. Kristy L. Hawley
This was not my experience in medical school, nor is this the experience of most medical students I have met who are involved in the Benjamin Rush Institute. Medical students typically experience a one-sided healthcare policy approach that favors heavy government regulation. After almost 15 years of studying economics and health policy, my approach to improving healthcare involves getting back to basic principles of entrepreneurship and protecting the doctor-patient relationship. To reform our system, prevent physician burn out and increase job satisfaction successful systems of patient-centered care and “radical” ideas need to be researched. My goal during medical school was to acquaint colleagues and faculty to voices outside of academia. Working with BRI during medical school, we brought in innovative, entrepreneurial physicians who proved that both doctors and their patients can be happy and healthy. We heard from policy experts critical of the ACA who offered solutions for meaningful reform. These influential speakers are now found in the U.S. Senate, the office of the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, featured frequently on national news outlets and are formidable forces in medical and doctor advocacy. The voices involved with BRI are determined to transform our current system.
My most memorable experience with BRI—and its greatest contribution to my professional and personal growth—was twice attending on scholarship the Free Market Medical Association (FMMA) conference in Oklahoma City. I networked with Dr. Keith Smith who invited BRI students to tour his Surgery Center. I could tell that the surgeons, staff and patients were enjoying the care delivery experience there. Dr. Smith walked us through how he set up the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, discussed difficulties and innovative solutions that have made the Center a national model for direct pay surgery. Due to his center’s phenomenal success, Dr. Smith has been asked to testify on healthcare matters on Capitol Hill. When choosing a specialty as a medical student it helps to see successful models in action. Having access to change leaders like Dr. Smith is invaluable for those thinking of practicing outside the traditional academic model.
“Some of the greatest opportunities in being involved with BRI are the relationships and education gained at national conferences. It was an amazing experience for me to meet people who shared similar visions for the future and promise of healthcare in our country. It was refreshing to speak with physicians fighting to reclaim ownership of our profession. We have lost our voice. We have lost our seat at the table to government regulations and insurers who now seem to make clinical decisions. We have allowed hospitals, rather than clinicians, to decide what is medically in our patients’ best interest.” ~Dr. Kristy L. Hawley
Our Hippocratic oath speaks of staying involved in society and preserving our profession so that we experience joy in healing: “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm. If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”
My interactions with like-minded peers and experts who are working to return “joy” to the profession have given me the confidence to express my viewpoints with other physicians who may have different world views. I now have a network of physicians and fellow residents with whom I can discuss entrepreneurial or policy ideas. I truly loved getting to know the staff and BRI students across the country. I had such a wonderful experience and hope to pay it forward in the future. I urge medical students to please stay involved as residents, keep your email updated and maintain your BRI membership. As more students graduate there will be a greater role for resident mentorship as well as ways to focus on our own professional development.