In an election with high healthcare stakes, more doctors need to go to the polls, says one physician

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With an election that will decide the country’s next president--a leader who will undoubtedly play a huge role in the healthcare industry in general and the Affordable Care Act in particular--just weeks away, more physicians must get out and vote, says one doctor.

But as a demographic, one study found doctors are less likely to vote than lawyers, other professionals, farmers and the general population, writes Dhruv Khullar, M.D., a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, on STAT

Less than one-third of the country’s doctors voted in some recent elections, he says. Physicians are also less likely to volunteer for political campaigns and donate to candidates than other professionals.

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“It’s not clear why. Some doctors may simply be too busy and ... can’t get to the voting booth. Some may feel that caring for patients fulfills their sense of social purpose,” Khullar speculates.

However, there are more physicians running for political office, he says. Since 2005, 27 physicians have been elected to Congress. But while physicians as a group are growing more liberal, those getting elected to Congress are almost exclusively conservative, he says. Among those physicians currently serving in Congress, all are men, most are white and all but three are Republican.

One recent poll showed physicians are as divided as the presidential candidates--and the rest of the electorate--when it comes to some healthcare issues.

Given that healthcare is an important issue to voters and accounts for the largest share of the economy, “more politically active physicians could add an important voice to our political and social discussions,” he writes.

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