Libby White began working with the Texas Medical Association Alliance before she even knew there was an alliance.
When she and her husband, radiologist Steven White, MD, moved to Lubbock from Oklahoma in 2003, they quickly discovered that the cost of medical liability insurance in Texas might force them to move yet again to another state.
“When I realized how much we were paying in malpractice [insurance] and how much we were bringing home, I was like, that’s over half our paycheck,” she said.
That year, Ms. White heard that Texas lawmakers were considering House Bill 4, a tort reform measure that would eventually cap the level of noneconomic damages in medical liability lawsuits. Though the Whites didn’t know any other Texas physicians yet, she immediately began a personal lobby campaign, visiting physician offices in Lubbock to drop off printed materials and tell people about the importance of passing HB 4. (See “Coming of Age,” September 2018 Texas Medicine, pages 14-21, www.texmed.org/ComingOfAge.)
Then she found out about the Lubbock County Medical Society and its alliance.
“I was like, ‘Oh, my word, I don’t have to go to Kinkos and get all this stuff printed?’” she said. “That was the start of my alliance career in Lubbock.”
That career will come to fruition this month at the alliance’s ALLMED conference in Houston in conjunction with TexMed 2022, when Ms. White becomes president of the TMA Alliance, TMA’s massive volunteer force. She has thrown herself into numerous alliance initiatives over the years, just as she did the lobbying effort for medical liability reform back in 2003.
“I know I didn’t personally pass [medical liability] reform, but I felt like I birthed a child in the middle of all that,” she said.
TMA Alliance began as an organization for physician wives in 1918 to support TMA’s mission of improving the health of all Texans. To continue that mission, the alliance over time has opened its membership to physicians, medical students, men, and all types of physician families. (See “Allies in Medicine,” February 2022 Texas Medicine, pages 28-33, www.texmed.org/AlliesInMedicine.)
Ms. White says she wants to continue the work of her predecessors in that regard.
“It’s what I tell my [13-year-old son, Deklan] all the time,” she said. “In order to make friends, you’ve got to be a good friend and to meet people where they’re at.”
She also emphasizes that local alliance members take part in more than just advocacy work on behalf of medicine and are free to choose programs that fit their communities, including coming up with their own. For instance, Lubbock County Medical Society and its alliance have focused in part on combating sex trafficking by working with the local Chamber of Commerce and Lubbock city leaders.
Ms. White has a number of TMA Alliance leadership positions under her belt, including president of the Lubbock County Medical Society Alliance. While lobbying and community work are important, she said the alliance is more important on a daily basis as a network of friends – friends who understand the unique stresses and demands faced by physician families.
“We’re like family but the family you like to be around,” she said. “You couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people.”
The COVID-19 pandemic remains unpredictable, but she also hopes to lead the alliance in a world that is not preoccupied with COVID-19.
“When the dust settles, we’re going to realize how much we’ve lost during this time,” she said. “People are going to be ready to get out and interact with each other again.”
With any luck, that new day will begin at ALLMED, she says.
“Hopefully, when we meet at ALLMED in April, we’ll have the celebratory time we’ve been looking forward to – a party to put the past behind us and start anew.”
Tex Med. 2022;118(3):26
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