Aggie president-elect of the American Medical Association: ‘Let doctors be doctors’

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - The president-elect of the American Medical Association is Dr. Susan Bailey, a Fort Worth-based physician with many ties to Texas A&M University.

Dr. Bailey joined First News at Four to discuss her new role. See the video player above and the transcript below.

News 3’s Kathleen Witte: Just how ‘Aggie’ are you?

I'm pretty Aggie. I was a President's Endowed Scholar as an undergraduate and then was in the charter class of the College of Medicine in 1977. So, I got both of my degrees at Texas A&M and had the opportunity to serve on the Board of Regents as well as the Board of Directors of the Association of Former Students. A&M is very, very deep in my heart.

KW: How did Texas A&M prepare you for a career in medicine, especially the specific career you've had?

Dr. Bailey: The values that A&M teaches--it wasn’t called ‘RELLIS’ at the time, but respect, excellence, loyalty, leadership, integrity and selfless service--those have been A&M's values all along, and those values were instilled in me while I was in college and in medical school. I think they have prepared me really well, in addition to the great science education and medical education that I got. The values and the leadership skills that I've learned have prepared me very well to be a leader in organized medicine.

KW: What do you see as your role with the AMA?

Dr. Bailey: The president of the AMA serves as the chief spokesperson for the organization, which is the largest physician membership organization in the country. But, it also speaks for physicians as a whole. My goal while I'm president of the AMA is to do everything I can to let doctors be doctors. Take away the administrative burdens. Help with unfair payment systems. Also, help obtain insurance for the millions of Americans that don't have it.

KW: What are the biggest challenges facing physicians in the U.S. right now?

Dr. Bailey: Physicians are overwhelmed with non-medical tasks. A study that the AMA sponsored several years ago showed that we spend more than twice our time at the keyboard typing in a computer than we do with our patients, which makes us the most highly paid data-entry clerks in the country. We didn't go to medical school to work on electronic health records all day long. We didn't go to medical school to fill out prior authorizations to obtain medications or procedures that our patients need. I think the major challenge facing us today is to get rid of these roadblocks and let doctors be doctors and take care of their patients.

KW: You’ve been outspoken on the opioid crisis.

Dr. Bailey: I had the benefit and pleasure of testifying on behalf of the AMA at Congress's Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing in Washington, D.C. last week about the opioid crisis, sending the message that opioid use disorder is a brain disease. It's not a moral failing. There are medications available to treat it. We know what works. We need to get the barriers for treatments out of there.

For the full conversation with Dr. Bailey, see the video player above.