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Consider serving on your state medical board

Article-Consider serving on your state medical board

Boca Raton, Fla. — Cosmetic surgeons can provide a unique perspective in the state medical board review process, according to Mary Lynn Moran, M.D., facial plastic surgeon in practice in Woodside, Calif.

In addition, there are many personal benefits to becoming involved, says Dr. Moran, who became a member of the Medical Board of California under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration.

The board's role

State medical boards review disciplinary cases and decide if they agree with the administrative law judge's rulings. The California state medical board meets quarterly for two days, and more frequently if there is an emergency situation or a special voting issue or discussion.

"Usually we agree with the decision, but sometimes we hold them for discussion at the quarterly meeting," Dr. Moran says. "On occasion, we ask for transcripts from the hearing so that we can get a better understanding of why the judge made the decision he or she did. Occasionally, we even have the physician come in to speak on their own behalf so that we can establish a sense of the intent of the physician. Sometimes we feel that the decision is too harsh, and in other cases it may not be harsh enough.

"There are more physicians on the board than non-physicians, and I would say it is pretty evenly split that we either rule for a lighter or harsher discipline," she says.

"No one wants to permit a physician harming patients to continue to practice, because it ruins it for everybody. The trust of the public is destroyed, patients' lives are destroyed, and faith in the medical community as a whole is weakened. It diminishes all the good work done in good faith by hard-working, law-abiding physicians. On the other hand, we are also are very quick to defend the doctor who we feel is being unduly penalized," Dr. Moran says.

The position on the California state medical board requires approximately 60 hours a month. Members can receive a $100 per diem.

"It is from 30 to 60 extra hours a month in addition to my practice, but it is so worthwhile," Dr. Moran says. "I view it as an honor to serve both my fellow physicians and the public, under a governor that I greatly respect."

Becoming involved

Cosmetic surgeons who are interested in becoming a state medical board member can take several steps to gain experience and knowledge.

"Surgeons can become more politically aware and write to a senator or a new candidate and express their interests and qualifications," Dr. Moran says.

They can also become involved in other medical society boards and can network with other politically active doctors.

Dr. Moran believes she was in the right place at the right time.

"I know some people who were very involved with Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign, so I got involved and had an opportunity to meet him as well as some of the members of his cabinet. I became very excited about his vision for the state, and was thrilled to be asked to become involved in a way that I felt I could make a difference," she says.

"Gov. Schwarzenegger wanted to have more women as well as younger doctors who are more involved in clinical medicine on the board. I happened to fit that demographic," she says.

Dr. Moran believes that as a plastic surgeon she is uniquely positioned to help out on the board. Cosmetic surgeons can offer state medical boards their perspective on abuses that have come about because of doctors who have been lured by the popularity and quick-income potential of the cosmetic surgery craze. Not all have the proper training or the best intentions, and occasionally patients are harmed as a result, she says.

Becoming a part of the California state medical board might not have always been in Dr. Moran's master plan, but she says it has been life-changing.

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