Expert Commentary

An oath to save lives against a backdrop of growing disparities

Author and Disclosure Information

 

References

A model of hope

The MAVEN Project matches physician volunteers with safety net clinics serving patients in need and provides malpractice insurance and a Health Information Portability and Accountability Act–compliant technology platform to facilitate remote communication. Our volunteers mentor and educate primary care providers in the field and offer both immediate and asynchronous advisory consults. Clinic providers can group cases for discussion, ask urgent questions, or receive advice and support for the day-to-day challenges facing clinicians today. Clinics choose educational topics, focusing on tools needed for patient care rather than esoteric mechanisms of disease. Patients receive best-in-class care conveniently and locally, and by making volunteering easy, we build partnerships that augment patient and provider satisfaction, support long-term capacity building, and improve service delivery.

Our volunteer physicians now represent more than 30 medical specialties and 25 medical schools, and we have completed more than 2,000 consultations to date. Our clinics are located in 6 states (California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, South Dakota, and Washington), and thanks to our model, physician state of licensure is not an impediment to volunteering. Several colleagues in our specialty are providing advice in women’s health.

Driving innovative solutions

Elizabeth Kopin, MD, an ObGyn who practiced for 28 years in Worcester, Massachusetts, and volunteers for the MAVEN Project, eloquently described in correspondence with Project coordinators the spirit that embodies the pursuit of medicine and the organization’s mission. As Dr. Kopin stated, “The driving force behind my entering medicine was to help people in an essential and meaningful way. I was especially driven to participate in the care of women. I wanted to gain knowledge and skills to help women with health care throughout their lives.”

Dr. Kopin’s capacity to care for patients in the clinic and hospital was progressively reduced as her multiple sclerosis advanced. As a result, she retired from clinical practice, but her desire to participate and contribute to medicine with the passion with which she entered it remained.

Her father was an internist who started a charitable clinic in Georgia. Like her father, Dr. Kopin began her medical career in academic medicine. Her father felt that his last 15 years in medicine were the most meaningful of his career because of his work with underserved populations. Dr. Kopin is following in his footsteps. For her, “Looking for a telehealth vehicle helping communities in need gives me the opportunity to use my abilities in the best way possible.” Dr. Kopin also stated, “Helping the underserved was something I wanted to devote my time to and The MAVEN Project has given me that possibility.”

We like to think of ourselves as Match. com meets the Peace Corps, with the goal to reach underserved patients in all 50 states in both rural and urban communities. We ask for as little as 4 hours of your time per month, and all you need is a computer or smartphone and a medical license. We welcome volunteers in active or part-time practice, academics, and industry: your years of wisdom are invaluable.

The vast complexities of the US health care system are by no measure easy to address, but standing by and allowing a fractured system to rupture is not an option. Each of us has an expertise and an opportunity to make incremental steps to ensure that those who need health care do not slip through the cracks. Dr. Kopin and I are fortunate to have a skill to help others and, in the MAVEN Project, a robust, dedicated network of individuals who share our vision.

There are many who have and continue to inspire a guiding conscience to serve beyond oneself. George H.W. Bush said it best when explaining why he founded the Points of Light organization nearly 3 decades ago6:

I have pursued life itself over many years now and with varying degrees of happiness. Some of my happiness still comes from trying to be in my own small way a true “point of light.” I believe I was right when I said, as President, there can be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others. So I do that now, and I gain happiness. I do not seek a Pulitzer Prize. I do not want press attention…. I have found happiness. I no longer pursue it, for it is mine.

Please join us on our mission!

How to join

We are actively seeking specialty and primary care physicians to provide advisory consultations, mentorship, and education via telehealth technology. We welcome physician volunteers who:

  • are newly retired, semi-retired, in industry, or in clinical practice
  • have a minimum of 2 years of clinical practice experience
  • have been active in the medical community in the past 3 years
  • have an active or volunteer US medical license (any state)
  • are able to provide 3 professional references
  • are willing to commit a minimum of 4 hours per month for 6 months.

Visit us online to complete our physician volunteer inquiry form (https://www.mavenproject.org/work-with-us/#wwu-volunteer-as-a-physician-...).

Share your thoughts! Send your Letter to the Editor to rbarbieri@mdedge.com. Please include your name and the city and state in which you practice.

Next Article: