The Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society Med Journal May 2019 Final 2 - Page 18

Member Physicians Serve in the 92 nd General Assembly as Doctor of the Day Laura Haywood Doctors of the Day have served year after year,” says Hawkins, “but we’ve added some new faces to the list this year. It’s always ex- citing to share this experience with someone who hasn’t seen firsthand the action of state government.” During the legislative session, the Arkan- sas Medical Society commits to providing a physician member to serve as Doctor of the Day for the Arkansas State Legislature. This unique volunteer opportunity allows physi- cians to connect with legislators one-on- one, get a first-hand look at the legislative process and how it affects the practice of medicine. Kathyrn McCarthy, MD, OrthoArkansas spine surgeon, enjoyed her first experience as Doc- tor of the Day in March. “What a unique op- portunity to see how the process comes to fruition! An insight into an entire other world bringing our skill set to the table. It was a pleasure to meet our lawmakers and be inthe Capitol for the day. I encourage people to do this ... you will not regret the time spent,” said McCarthy. As a part of this long-standing program, Doc- tor of the Day physicians are granted floor privileges to both chambers of the State Leg- islature and are introduced in the House and the Senate. They also have the opportunity to attend committee meetings, such as Public Health, Welfare, and Labor, where many of our front-line advocacy takes place. Doctor of the Day is not only a distinguished title, but also an opportunity to provide health care to members of the Legislature, legisla- tive employees, and other guests who are at the Capitol on that day. The Legislative Infirmary features its very own exam room equipped with basic exam equipment, and physician coverage is scheduled each day the Legis- lature is in session, typically January through April. It is also staffed with two experienced nurses to assist in any minor medical situation that may arise. “There are some sample medications for use in the infirmary, but there are not any controlled sub- stances,” said Legislative Support Specialist Laura Hawkins, coordinator of the AMS Doctor of the Day program. “If a situation becomes serious, we will call MEMS and have the first responders take over.” Representative Lee Johnson, MD, an emergency medicine physician from Greenwood, said he’s grateful for his colleagues volunteering their time to serve in this program. “The Doctor of the Day program provides a great opportunity for members of our medical community to interact with the leg- islative body. Our representatives and senators are Doctors of the Day Dr. James E. Hunt (right) and Dr. Jeff Kirsch (left) with Gov. Asa Hutchinson on their day at the Capitol. Doctor of the Day very appreciative of the time our physicians give to be at the Capitol and enjoy the opportunity to visit with them during their participation in the pro- gram,” he said. Dr. Johnson even got to experience the program from both sides. “One day this session our Doctor of the Day was unable to attend, so I stepped in. I saw five patients, four elected officials, and one government employee. I was surprised to learn Doctor of the Day was not just a figurehead, but actually has to work a little. My thanks to all that have participated and saved me from pulling double duty.” Also serving for the first time was Johnathan Goree, MD, the Director of the UAMS Inter- ventional Pain Management Services. “The nurses that run the clinic in the Capitol are OUTSTANDING. They are incredibly helpful with seeing patients and navigating the ses- sion. I look forward to serving again during the next session,” he said. Appathurai Balamurugan, MD, state chronic disease director for the Arkansas Department of Health, served as Doctor of the Day for five years. “Serving those who serve Arkansans gives me immense plea- sure, and it also gave me a whole new understand- ing about governance by Arkansas Legislature,” he said. It’s so important for our members to have a physical presence at the Capitol during legislative session in order to bring the voice of medicine to the Arkansas legislators. We appreciate all of our volunteers who have served our legislators, employees, and guests during this session. Doctors of the Day represent a diverse audience of different specialties and organizations. “Many of our The Arkansas Medical Society and the Arkansas Department of Health would like to share our sincere gratitude to the Capitol Infirmary nurses, Sherry Barnard, RN, and Brenda Huett, RN, for their service during the 92nd General Assembly. Barnard and Huett have served in this capacity for five years. 258 • THE JOURNAL OF THE ARKANSAS MEDICAL SOCIETY VOLUME 115