The doctor association represents physicians as they treat patients, advance science and maintain the standards of the profession. It also serves to protect patient safety, provide continuing medical education and advocate for enabling medical legislation. It is a powerful force in the world of medicine that traces its roots back to a bloody duel fought between doctors in 1818.
In the United States, the American Medical Association (AMA) is a professional organization founded in 1847 with 250 delegates representing 28 colleges and 40 medical societies. Its stated mission is to “promote the science and art of medicine for the betterment of public health.”
The AMA is the largest medical society in the world, with 240,000 members. The AMA’s national office is in Chicago.
A major initiative of the AMA is to improve medical education in the country. One of the ways it accomplishes this goal is by evaluating medical schools to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements to be considered a legitimate medical school. It also works to standardize curriculums for each medical specialty and oppose healing arts that are based on mystic beliefs or unscientific precepts. The AMA also has taken a strong stand on issues such as the use of tobacco, abortion and birth control.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the AMA struggled to deal with declining membership. The association had several task forces tasked with recruiting physicians, including establishing tiered memberships and offering discounts for different stages of a physician’s career. In addition, the AMA began to promote itself as an organization that could offer services such as malpractice insurance, as well as to offer benefits such as electronic tools that could help a doctor manage his or her practice.
In the mid-1990s, the AMA faced further challenges in recruiting members. The AMA subsidized student and resident memberships in order to attract more young doctors, but the full rate was too much for many. Moreover, the AMA’s political activism was perceived as a negative by many younger physicians, who were unsure of what the group stood for and who felt it took on too much power for its own good.
The AMA’s efforts to combat membership decline are ongoing. It is attempting to attract younger physicians through discounted rates and offers of services such as medical liability insurance, and it has begun to focus on issues such as gender equity and mentoring for women. It has also launched a crusade against health plan “gag clauses,” which have led to their removal by five leading managed care providers and laws prohibiting them in 16 states. The AMA is also working to develop ways for physicians to make the transition from hospital-based practice to independent practice, while maintaining quality and access to patients. In addition, it is working to encourage more minority physicians to join the field and to support its current members. In addition, the AMA has established a living history center at the home of the Founder of the AMA, Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen, which is now a museum and historic site.