Jefferson and Orleans Parish Medical Societies are excited to announce the formation of a new unified and stronger organization to represent physicians and patients in our region - the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana.

Readers of the Healthcare Journal of New Orleans have read about the enhanced collaborative efforts of the two parish societies over the last year. This collaboration, with input from physicians via survey and several focus groups, resulted in a decision by the respective boards and membership of both organizations to form this new organization in October, 2020.

During the focus groups, physicians indicated they wanted leaders of Jefferson & Orleans Parish Medical Societies to “build a better boat” – a new and improved organization to advocate for and serve physicians. In addition, the focus group physician participants shared the importance of needing a stronger, trusted voice in the community. They indicated the need for a unified voice on medical and public health matters, health equity, medical education and the physician workforce, health care access, financing and delivery, and physician autonomy.

The leaders of the parish medical societies were listening intently and have created an organizational structure which ensures an effective governance structure, and which encourages collaboration, leadership development and physician member engagement.

That new boat has been launched as the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana (MASELA). Jefferson & Orleans Parish Medical Societies will continue to be the voice of physicians to the Louisiana State Medical Society. Most other responsibilities and operations are being transferred to the new organization to guarantee a more responsive approach to serving physicians and their medical practices. Membership is open to all physicians in the Southeast Louisiana region, and if a physician resides and/or practices in Jefferson or Orleans Parish, they may join both MASELA and the parish medical society.

MASELA has a board of ten physicians – five from each founding society. Initially, MASELA is being led by co-presidents – representing the two founding parish societies elected by the new board. Tanya Busenlener, MD, President of Jefferson Parish Medical Society, and Juan Gershanik, MD, President of Orleans Parish Medical Society, are serving as co-presidents. Other local or regional physician organizations in this region are invited to affiliate with the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana as well.

According to Dr. Busenlener, “the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana is in direct response to what physicians in our area told us they need to enhance their ability to practice medicine effectively.”

The bylaws of the Medical Association note “This Association shall bring together physicians to serve and advocate for the common needs of physician members, their patients, and the community.”

Juan Gershanik, MD, stresses the important role the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana will play in the community noting, “Our new organization has a tremendous opportunity to work with other community organizations to improve the health of all people in Southeast Louisiana through education and innovation.”

Physicians can become engaged in the new organization through individual membership, and may join ad hoc committees to address the common challenges of certain physician segments and improve collegiality of women, early career, academic and private practice physicians. In addition, ad hoc committees will address legislative and regulatory matters, public health and health equity concerns, and improve stakeholder relations and physician well-being.

The board and ad hoc committees of the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana will develop services, programs and initiatives for physicians, medical practice staff, patients and the community. Initiatives which are already being evaluated are a collaboration with a national medical staffing organization, development of a physician-wellbeing program, and a Physician Connect partnership program which will link physicians with corporate resources in the community to provide value-added resources to physicians and their practices. Also, the leadership will consider offering educational programs regarding the business of medicine and continue their regular COVID-19 updates for physicians in the region which have kept physicians informed about the pandemic.

Dr. Busenlener shared her thoughts recently about physician involvement. “Physicians in our region have an excellent opportunity to get involved in this new organization to address our professional challenges together and enhance patient care in our communities.”

Forming the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana during the pandemic could be considered daunting; however, according to Dr. Gershanik, “COVID demonstrates the importance of physicians coming together to address a public health crisis, speaking with one unified, strong voice to our patients and the media, and working with our hospitals, medical training institutions and community organizations to provide quality care and improve the health of all people in our region.”

More information about the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana will be sent to physicians soon. For more information or to join, call 504.302.1900