MOUNTAIN GROVE, Mo.—He practices medicine in a town that has three stoplights and a population of just less than 5,000. So how did Mercy family medicine physician Dr. David Barbe become the new board chair-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA)?
“Half the battle is just getting involved,” says Dr. Barbe. He has certainly been involved, both on the state and national level. Dr. Barbe has served on the Missouri State Medical Association (MSMA) continuously for more than 20 years. He was chair of that organization in 2003 and president in 2005. He’s been on the AMA’s Board of Trustees since 2009. Dr. Barbe’s election to his new post with the AMA occurred at the group’s annual meeting on June 21st in Chicago.
With his new role as board chair-elect, Dr. Barbe is hoping to help influence the future of medicine, noting that federal health care laws provide only a framework as the country moves forward. “There’s a lot of work to be done to fill in the details of the federal law. The next several years are going to be very important in shaping what health care will look like.”
After a year as chair-elect, Dr. Barbe will become AMA board chair. In that position, he will work closely with AMA senior management to oversee the operations of the AMA and implementation of AMA policies. It’s a challenge the small town doctor says he looks forward to. “I’ve seen and understand what issues all physicians face, because I’ve been there, from solo practice to small group practice, and now to being a leader in Mercy’s four-state physician network.”
Dr. Barbe’s desire to serve others has kept him involved in policy discussions throughout the years, and it’s also the reason he started his medical practice in his hometown of Mountain Grove. “It really fulfilled a lot of personal values for me. It’s always been my mission to bring better health care and health awareness to areas that really need it. The economic conditions here can be challenging, and it’s difficult for some to access care. I wanted to find a way to help.”
That mission continues as Dr. Barbe assumes his new leadership role with the AMA. “You have to know the issues and be prepared to offer perspectives from the viewpoint of a practicing physician.”