Clark County Medical Society
A delegation from the Clark County Medical Society visit the Nevada State Legislature.
SPECIAL TO DAVID
What is the CCMS?
Is your doctor a member of the Clark County Medical Society? What is the Clark County Medical Society?
The Clark County Medical Society (CCMS) is a professional membership organization made up of physicians, medical residents, medical students, and physician assistants in Southern Nevada who are dedicated to serving the needs of doctors and their patients through advocacy, education, and community outreach. Founded in 1955, the organization’s efforts range from supporting medical education through scholarships to legislative advocacy at state and local levels to protect the physician-patient relationship.
According to Dr. Daniel Burkhead, an interventional pain management physician and the organization’s new president, many patients are unaware of how much their local medical society affects the quality of their health care.
“The work being done by the members of the Clark County Medical Society is absolutely vital to the health of our community,” says Dr. Burkhead. “Most people don’t realize it, but there are an incredible number of things going on behind the scenes that could be detrimental to the practice of medicine here.”
“There are a lot of threats out there to the delivery of quality health care,” says Dr. Burkhead. “Through the strength of our numbers, we are able to steer legislators away from decisions that could affect our ability to care for our patients or cause physicians to leave the state.”
In February, a group of over 70 physicians went to the State Legislature to speak on issues related to health care in Nevada. Dr. Howard Baron, a local pediatric gastroenterologist and President of the Nevada State Medical Association, was part of the group who went to speak to their representatives. “Each session we hope to make some positive gains for patients and physicians, and this session was no exception,” Dr. Baron says.
This past legislative session saw an unprecedented amount of bills relating to health care, including attempts to weaken Keep Our Doctors In Nevada, a measure passed in 2004 that aimed to slow the flow of physicians fleeing the state due to escalating malpractice insurance costs. Other bills suggested mandates for electronic prescribing, and assaults on patient protections in insurance coverage.
“Luckily, we were able to defeat or renegotiate a lot of legislation that would have severely impacted the quality of care in our community,” Dr. Burkhead explains. “That’s not to disparage legislators, often they don’t know the repercussions of some of these bills because they’re not physicians.”
A Physician Shortage
Currently, there are just over 180 full-time doctors in Southern Nevada per 100,000 residents, compared with 303 per 100,000 on average in the U.S. – a disparity that will increase as the city’s population continues its rapid growth. Even if the population remained stagnant, it would take at least 2,561 more doctors to get to the national average.
This shortage is caused primarily by low Medicaid reimbursement rates and a shortage of graduate medical education programs in the valley. By partnering with medical schools and residency programs here in Las Vegas, the medical society hopes to close that gap.
“By working to recruit and retain excellent doctors in Las Vegas, we hope to address the physician shortage here and the results of that can be seen today,” Dr. Burkhead says.
Supporting Medical Education
CCMS does a lot for physicians and their patients, but it is also focused on the future physicians of Southern Nevada: medical residents and students.
“Developing programming for our resident and medical student members is a huge priority to the medical society, especially when we are talking about combatting the physician shortage,” says Dr. Burkhead. “Statistics show that over 50 percent of physicians who finish their training here choose to practice in Nevada, making the growth of residency programs more important than ever.”
In an effort to retain these future physicians, the Clark County Medical Society’s resident programming focuses on both the development of additional opportunities for graduating medical students and the transition from residency to medical practice. During the fall, the medical society hosts their annual Resident Job Fair, which features seminars on financial planning, contracts and licensure, and interviewing for practices and fellowships.
“Our medical schools and graduate medical education programs here in Southern Nevada do an exceptional job of teaching these future physicians how to care for their patients,” says Dr. Burkhead. “The support the medical society provides helps fill in the gaps around the business side of medicine to ensure that they enter the workforce fully prepared for success.”
For medical students enrolled at Touro University or the UNLV School of Medicine, the demand is for mentorship opportunities with practicing physicians. With that in mind, CCMS launched a student mentorship program over the summer, pairing interested medical students with practicing CCMS members based on their specialty. CCMS also hosted a series of networking events to get students from both schools to interact with each other.
According to Dr. Burkhead, the resident and medical student members of the society are more involved and represented than ever before. “We felt it was important to add voting board positions for both a resident and medical student, so that they have a seat at the table when we are discussing issues facing doctors here in Southern Nevada,” Dr. Burkhead says.
Helping the Community
According to Dr. Burkhead and his peers, working to advocate for physicians at the legislature and supporting the growth of medical education programs provides a significant amount of value to the community.
“Really, at the end of the day, what is good for physicians is what is good for patients,” says Dr. Burkhead.
In addition, the organization provides countless referrals to members of the public who are seeking a new physician, or need a provider with a specific skill set.
“We’re also a very reliable source of information about public outbreaks, news stories regarding some of the fantastic work being done by our advanced care centers in Las Vegas, and healthcare trends,” Dr. Burkhead says. “People call our office when they need help, and in the rare instances where our staff can’t help, they will connect you with someone who can.”
To help connect the community with the physicians who care for them, the medical society hosts the “Wear the White Coat” internship program, giving community stakeholders and business leaders the opportunity to shadow a physician for a day and learn about the issues facing their doctors. Last year, they also hosted an incredibly successful “Stop the Bleed” event, where they trained members of the community on how to use tourniquets and gauze to slow bleeding and potentially save lives should they find themselves in an emergency.
Is your doctor a member?
At just over 1500 members out of 5,000 licensed physicians in Southern Nevada, there is still a lot of opportunity for growth. Dr. Burkhead encourages all patients to ask if their doctor is a member of the Clark County Medical Society, and implores all physicians in the Las Vegas Valley to join to make sure their voice is heard. According to Dr. Burkhead, the strength in numbers provided by membership in the medical society is the only way to combat recent challenges to the physician-patient relationship.
“The practice of medicine here is changing, whether your doctor is involved or sitting on the sidelines,” Dr. Burkhead says. “The difference is that by being involved in organized medicine, your physician can work with their peers to lead the delivery of quality care forward, not backwards. Membership in CCMS shows a commitment to our community and benefits their patients and their practice.”
Clark County Medical Society offices at:
2590 E. Russell Rd., Las Vegas, NV, 89120.
Clark County Medical Society offices.
A CCMS Physician and student members meeting with Assemblywoman Sarah Peters during the 2019 session.
CCMS President, Dr. Burkhead presents a CCMS Community Service Award to Kerry Bubolz and the Vegas Golden Knights.