Medical professional organizations, also known as learned societies, develop and promote high standards of medical education, scientific and medical practice and ethics. In some countries they are incorporated as public law corporations and in others they function as independent associations or federations. This article examines the registration of doctors and their medical professional organization in a number of EU-15 countries, Japan, and the United States and identifies the centralization/decentralization axis as one major factor contributing to serious problems.
This is not just a question of how the registration process should work; it is a question of who is responsible for it. Doctors are a group of professionals who must be licensed in order to practice medicine, and there are a variety of ways to achieve this. The most common way is through a national registry that is accessed by local councils and colleges in order to determine whether or not doctors are qualified to practice. It is a difficult thing to do because if one local council disqualifies a doctor, it must inform all other local councils and colleges so that they can take the same action in the future.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that each local council may be a separate legal entity with its own logo and domain and email addresses. This can create a confusion of image on the part of doctors and a loss of the sense of unity of the national councils on the part of their members. In some cases it also weakens the ability of a national council to develop programs such as campaigns in defense of the profession and its members because it is impossible to take positions at an institutional level that would be enforceable on all local councils and colleges.
Despite these issues, there are many benefits of membership in physician associations. Most offer a wealth of educational tools that physicians can use in their practices. From medical coding assistance to resources to help them understand new healthcare payment models, these organizations are an important resource for those in the field of medicine.
In addition to the educational benefits, many professional associations also provide a venue for networking. It is a great way to connect with colleagues who have similar interests and keep up with the latest trends in the industry. Most organizations offer a wide range of networking opportunities, including national conferences and regional seminars.
In some instances, physician associations will also act as a lobbying group. For example, the American Medical Association has campaigned against healthcare reform, fought for the rights of patients, and worked for the safety of workers in the medical industry. The AMA also publishes a series of Declarations, Resolutions and Statements that help guide National Medical Associations, governments and international organizations on ethical issues such as research on human subjects, the treatment of prisoners in times of armed conflict, abortion and birth control, the use of drugs and family planning.