A doctor association is a group of doctors who band together to share research and information about the practice of medicine. These groups also advocate on behalf of doctors and their patients for medical issues. Membership in a doctor association is available to registered physicians, residents and medical students. Some physician organizations focus on a specific discipline of medicine, while others represent all types of physicians. The American Medical Association, founded in 1847, is one of the largest and most influential doctor associations in the world.
In the past, medical association members took an oath to uphold certain ethical standards. These oaths often required physicians to “do no harm” and not use their training or knowledge for any illegal purposes. The oath was largely ceremonial and remained in place until the early 20th century, when some medical societies began to revise their oaths to reflect new developments in science and technology. In the mid-20th century, the American Medical Association (AMA) urged all doctors to adopt these revised oaths.
The AMA also created an educational foundation and funded it with member dues. The foundation’s grants support medical school tuition and research. The AMA also publishes Current Procedural Terminology, which is a standardized system of names for medical procedures. This allows hospitals to record and report patient care data in a uniform way, which makes it easier for researchers and other health-care providers to compare patient care results across facilities.
Since the 1970s, the AMA has lobbied for legislation that promotes good health. This has included the recommendation that all physicians use the oral vaccine against polio, advocating for national AIDS education and treatment programs, supporting the Medicare bill and opposing laws that violate patient-physician confidentiality. The AMA has also campaigned against smoking and fought against a number of managed care company “gag clauses,” which limit doctors’ ability to discuss information with patients.
A more controversial issue that the AMA has tackled is racism. The organization issued an apology in 2008 for policies that excluded African-American doctors and banned them from some state and local medical societies. It also pointed out that, in the 19th century, a president of the AMA practiced vaginal surgeries on enslaved women without anesthesia.
The AMA has also helped pave the way for female physicians. In 1972, a second wave of feminism combined with concerns about a medical manpower shortage to encourage more women to apply to medical schools. This prompted the creation of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), which pushed for more female representation in medical academia and practice.
The AMWA also supports women in leadership positions by providing workshops and mentoring programs for aspiring physician leaders. Its Gender Equity Task Force works toward gender equality in pay, career advancement and professional recognition. Its Networking Alliance brings together women in all specialties to encourage collaboration and support each other. The organization also sponsors a variety of women’s conferences, exhibitions and awards.