Medical Association and You
Deborah J. Harper, M.D.
What can WSMA do for students and alumni? Deborah J. Harper, M.D., president of the Washington State Medical Association from Oct. 2009–Sept. 2010, and the UW School of Medicine’s clinical assistant dean for regional affairs and rural health in Spokane, Wash., gives some insight.
What’s the association’s mission?
We want to make Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care.
What services do you provide?
The association hosts webinars and CMEs, provides legal counsel to doctors, and lobbies for physicians and patients in Olympia. It was a hard year legislatively, because the state faced a big shortfall. But we advocated for the Basic Health Plan—we’re still working on getting it funded, in fact. And we lobbied to keep the GAU (General Assistance Unemployable program) from getting cut. We also worked with UW Medicine faculty to help pass an opioid education bill. (See the related feature, “Redefining Pain.”)
How do you support our alumni and trainees?
Many alumni are members. I should mention that students can join the association for free, and residents at a reduced rate. We’re creating a mentoring program for residents and doctors who are in the first years of practice, too. It’s a vibrant organization.
How do you balance being an assistant dean and a practicing physician?
Well, neither job is exactly half-time! But they’re complementary. As an assistant dean, I help create clerkships for students — they’re so full of energy, and they’re so smart. And I get to see students in my clinic, too — third-year students rotate through. In both jobs, I keep my finger on the pulse of the School.Want to learn more about the WSMA? Visit www.wsma.org.
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