He practices medicine in a town that has three stoplights and a population of just less than 5,000. It may seem unlikely that someone like Mercy’s Dr. David Barbe would become the chair of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Board of Trustees, but Dr. Barbe says his small-town roots give him exactly the background he needs.
“I’ve seen and understand what issues all physicians face, because I’ve been there. I’ve been in solo practice, small group practice and now I’m also a leader in Mercy’s four-state physician network,” he explained. Along with his new position on the AMA Board of Trustees, Dr. Barbe is also president of the regional division of Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities.
Dr. Barbe worked last year as AMA board chair-elect. With his new position as board chair, he will work closely with AMA senior management to oversee the operations of the AMA and implementation of AMA policies. He’s hoping to be able to influence the future of medicine, as doctors work within the framework of the federal health care law. “The next several years will be key in shaping what health care looks like in this country,” he said. “I’ve taken some of Mercy’s ideas to the AMA, and can explain why these models work. I’ve seen how doctors and hospitals can collaborate and improve patient care.”
As for Dr. Barbe’s patients in the Mountain Grove area, they don’t have to worry. While his new leadership position may take him out of town occasionally, he’ll still be around to care for his patients. “I’ve always seen my work here as a mission. We have unique economic challenges in smaller towns, so I want to make sure I’m doing all I can to bring better health care and to my hometown and others like it.”