It’s an understatement to say that Dr. Joseph J. Heck has always felt called to serve others. A renowned emergency physician with a decorated military history, Dr. Heck, who served in the Nevada Senate from 2004 through 2008, is also president and medical director of Specialized Medical Operations Inc., a corporation dedicated to providing high-quality medical training, consulting, and operational support to law enforcement, EMS, and military special operations.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 30 – No 01 – January 2011
On Nov. 2, 2010, Dr. Heck took his willingness to serve to a whole new level, making history by becoming both the first emergency physician and the first Doctor of Osteopathy to be elected to Congress.
“It’s critically important that we finally have a representative of our profession in Congress,” said Dr. Heck, elected in Nevada’s third Congressional District. “While we’ve had other physicians serve, including subspecialists, surgeons, and primary care providers, we’ve not had anyone who truly understands the unique aspects of providing emergency medical care.
“We’re the only specialty that takes all comers – regardless of time of day, ability to pay, or complaint,” Dr. Heck continued. “When you look at passing health care legislation, there are many nuances and intricacies that have a trickle-down effect on emergency medicine providers.”
With his lifetime of service and clearly packed agenda, why did Dr. Heck decide the time was right for a congressional run?
“I looked at the issues we’re facing as a nation – primarily jobs, the economy, health care, and national defense – and then I considered my background,” he said. “I’m a small business owner and a physician who’s not only caring for patients but has been an administrator and an educator, and I’ve served nearly 20 years in the military. I’ve focused the last 30 years of my life on the major issues we’re facing, and I thought it was time we had people representing us who have contemporaneous, real-world experience.”
Dr. Heck pointed to his military background as particularly pertinent to today’s times. “Not that I think you must be in the military to address those issues, but I do believe it’s helpful when you’re making decisions about sending servicemen and women off to war, as well as how to care for our veterans, that we have at least a cadre of folks who have been there to understand the unique issues that our men and women in uniform face,” he said.