Thomas G. Peters, MD
Specialty: Transplant surgery
- College of Surgeons, 1981-present
- American Medical Association (54 years)
- American Society of Transplant Surgeons, AMA delegate, 2017-2023
- Florida Liaison, AMA Senior Physicians Section
- President, Duval County Medical Society (2002)
I left clinical medicine in 2012 after more than 40 years as an academic general and organ transplant surgeon, a most satisfying career. My wife Ruby and I have been married for over 45 years and have four kids and thirteen grandchildren. My extended family lives in Jacksonville, Florida along the St. Johns River.
We are lucky to all be in good health, and remain physically and mentally active. Ruby works part-time as a sociologist and I continue with consulting, research, teaching and public policy tasks. We enjoy being engaged with family and colleagues in the community.
Q: How can senior physicians help in their local communities, especially if doctors are retired and want to return to work during this time?
A: Senior physicians who are retired from traditional clinical roles may want to return to patient-centered work or consider other tasks that have been sharpened by a lifetime of experience. Numerous volunteer clinical part-time opportunities welcome seasoned physicians, although staying current with emerging trends of medical care and the massive medical literature may be a challenge. Non-clinical activities might include organized medicine at the local, state and national levels; professional society involvement; community and secular volunteer efforts such as food banks, health service organizations and tasks defined by their places of worship.
Q: How do you keep current with your medical training and licensing?
A: I am privileged to have an appointment, professor of surgery emeritus, at the University of Florida, Jacksonville, where I have worked since 1988. Attending weekly conferences, serving on a hospital committee, and pursuing education and research with faculty colleagues—and especially surgery residents—keeps clinical issues front and center without many past concerns such as insurance issues (patient-centered and professional malpractice), business management and major administrative matters.
For the Florida Medical Association, I serve as a CME site-visitor to accredit hospital systems offering CME. The FMA and AMA based CME programs also help one to keep current. I have maintained my Florida Medical License since I remain an active research and teaching physician.
Q: As a physician leader, why is physician advocacy important to you? How can physicians have a significant impact outside the practice of medicine?
A: An important and productive activity for experienced physicians is public policy engagement with legislative and regulatory bodies to improve access to care and physician workplace issues. Advocacy becomes increasingly important as one matures and more fully understands growing regulatory constraints affecting doctor, patient and citizen alike.
Senior physicians may have a significant impact because of lifetime observations that they can use to influence political activities at all government levels. Concerned legislators listen to thoughtful discourse about issues important to all citizens whether within or outside the practice of medicine.
Q: What are three lessons you have learned through the pandemic?
- Listen to the consensus of expert colleagues, understanding that the consensus and recommendations may evolve and change.
- Understand that pandemics are the ongoing—past and future—experience of mankind.
- Retain empathy while explaining the history, biology and efficacy of vaccination to any interested person.
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