The most effective organizations are those that have a shared mission to be stewards of patients and populations. This includes a strong sense of shared vision and values; clear, guiding, and shared aims; and the ability to share performance data.
The AMA, the largest professional medical association in the US, has been an effective ally of physicians throughout the country for the past century. Its primary goals include the promotion of science and improving public health. It is also a powerful lobbying and advocacy organization.
It has made a number of contributions to candidates for political office and is the main financial backer of numerous organizations dedicated to reducing health care costs, promoting research and education, and battling for better patient-centered outcomes. It is often the most ardent and outspoken voice of physician advocacy.
Doctors and their families are often at the center of controversy over health care, a fact that is not lost on politicians and other decision makers. For example, it is well known that many physicians do not want to be forced to participate in health insurance plans as a way to get paid for their services. This is because the insurance plans often exacerbate their own financial problems.
These problems can include high prices for drugs, soaring deductibles, and a shrinking pool of available specialists. They can also involve a growing distrust among physicians of organized medicine and the influence of large corporations that run healthcare systems.
In addition, doctors are increasingly frustrated by the deterioration of the doctor-patient relationship. They are feeling pressure to perform more procedures in less time, with fewer resources. They are not getting enough sleep, and their physical and emotional health are slipping rapidly.
They are also not receiving the attention they deserve from a physician-centered management team. They are being underpaid for the work they do and treated with hostility and prejudice.
A new type of doctor organization could help physicians reconnect with their true purpose and adroitly confront the transformational challenges that lie ahead for them. It would be free of the trade guild that has infiltrated many a medical society, and its focus would be on the interests of patients.
One way to accomplish this is to form a medical association with a separate legal identity. This organization can be a national, regional or even local corporation or an independent professional association.
The most important benefit of a doctor association is its role as an expert resource for members. It provides continuing education, policy alerts and networking opportunities.
Taking advantage of these benefits can help physicians and their practice managers stay up to date on the latest advances in clinical and operational practices. It can also be an invaluable tool for educating physicians and managers about their patients’ rights, the ethics of their profession, and other issues related to their healthcare.
Despite the benefits, many physicians are hesitant to join professional associations. This may be because of a lack of perceived value or because they feel overwhelmed by the amount of yearly dues required to become a member. Regardless, it is essential to make a commitment to membership in these groups and use them as a tool for career advancement and mentorship.