The AMA “Members Move Medicine” series profiles a wide variety of doctors, offering a glimpse into the passions of women and men navigating new courses in American medicine.
On the move with: Scott R. Chaiet, MD, an otolaryngologist and facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Madison, Wisconsin.
AMA member since: 2003.
What inspired me to pursue a career in medicine: My curiosity about biology—and later head and neck anatomy—inspired my initial interest as an otolaryngologist and facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. However, it is the ability to help patients at a time of need with complex disorders—facial trauma, cancer, facial paralysis, among others—that inspires my career and daily practice.
How I move medicine: I saw the power of advocacy from the start of my medical career. In my first weeks of medical school, I joined the Texas Medical Association’s efforts to advocate medical liability reform, which transformed Texas into a physician-friendly state to practice medicine after its passage.
My practice and path in the AMA have veered towards LGBTQ patient care. I move medicine by advocating for changes across health care systems for LGBTQ care. This amplifies the voice of one physician to thousands. I move medicine both in my practice and in the AMA by fighting to decrease LGBTQ stigma, and by working to improve insurance coverage and access for gender-affirming surgery for transgender patients.
Career highlights: My work on the AMA LGBTQ Advisory Committee has given so much meaning to my professional career and personal life. As a member of the LGBTQ community, this is my opportunity to join other colleagues to advocate for a community that suffers far too many health care disparities. Working with a talented and motivated cohort, we have brought educational programming on transgender care to national surgical organizations.
Advice I’d give to those interested in pursuing a career in medicine: I was given tough advice when shadowing in the operating room as a college student, “If there is any other career that will make you equally happy as medicine, then you should do that because medicine is a tough pathway.”
The advice was then repeated for the field of surgery. I like giving that advice because for those of us who cannot imagine any other career besides medicine, we are lucky to have found a job we love (albeit a tough one).
Aspect of my work that means the most: I received the “Student of the Year” award from the Texas Medical Association in 2004 for my advocacy in the Texas legislature, and for leadership in organized medicine.
I also spent a summer in Washington, D.C. working for the AMA. After engaging in advocacy with my specialty, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation awarded me the Adam T. Ross, MD, Leadership Excellence Award in 2011 for service and leadership during residency.
How I advocate for physicians and patients: Many of my closest long-term friendships were founded in the AMA either as colleagues or mentors. As a recipient of great advice and guidance from these members, I remain engaged in the AMA for advocacy work, and to also train a new generation of advocates.
My hope for the future of medicine: That we see all medical diagnoses as important, worthy of coverage, and with less stigma or polarization. This includes—in my practice—gender dysphoria, but I also hope for changes in treatment of addiction and mental health in our future medical system.
Visit MembershipMovesMedicine.com to learn more about other AMA members who are relentlessly moving medicine through advocacy, education, patient care and practice innovation, and join or renew today.