By Rafael J. Fernandez, Jr., MD

It is hard to believe that we have traveled around the sun once since we last met. That comes out to approximately 31,557,600 miles, to put it into perspective, a number just 16% greater than our current National Debt.

I am honored and humbled to have served as President of the Dade County Medical Association. This year has been challenging, instructional, enlightening, and fulfilling. I have had the privilege of meeting many individuals from all walks of life who either directly or indirectly influence the delivery of healthcare both in our County as well as at the State level. I want to thank all Dade County physicians for allowing me this privilege.

I assure you that the success of any leader is not solely the result of his or her effort but rather the result of those who came before and the team with whom they work. I would like to thank the members of the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors, Fraser Cobb, Angel Bosch, Desiree Santana, Betty Elma, and all the other individuals, too numerous to name, who have assisted me throughout the year. I would especially like to thank my wife, parents, brother, sons, daughter-in-law, and particularly my two granddaughters, Anita and Monica, as well as close friends who have supported me through this journey.

As in any endeavor, we have had wins and losses; however, we established the Physician Wellness Program; we made a donation to the Lee County Medical Association to assist the physicians impacted by Hurricane Ian; we traveled to Tallahassee and in one and a half days met with twenty-four Legislators as well as with their Aides advocating for physicians and patients; using print and social media we provided education as well as disseminated our position on important healthcare issues which affect physicians and patients; and in the 4th Annual Medical Student and Resident Research Competition, participation nearly doubled. I believe we were successful in representing physicians as well as the interest of patients at the County level as well as at the State level.

The battle continues since there will always be forces trying to weaken our resolve. Organized Medicine must continue to repair the bridges, reinforce our individual resolve, and continue to educate the public, never forgetting that the best defense is a strong offense. I am sure that my successor, as well as all of those who have helped me throughout this year, will continue the good fight, defending and protecting physicians in the practice of Medicine for the benefit of patients. I am also confident that in the end, we will always succeed if we address every issue using ethical and moral principles as our compass.

God Speed.

Dr. By Rafael J. Fernandez, Jr., is President of the Dade County Medical Association.