Why Join a Doctor Association?

A bloody gun duel between two doctors in Transylvania sparked a frenzy of outrage–and helped create the American Medical Association. It was one of many doctor associations that formed around the country in a time when petty feuds over personal matters could derail medical progress. The founders of the AMA realized that the group would need to set aside differences and impose a code of conduct to avoid conflicts of interest, protect patients and prevent mismanagement. It also needed to establish standards for physician education and training, medical ethics, and malpractice insurance. The AMA has evolved from that small, struggling organization into the world’s most powerful medical society.

The AMA is a confederation of free professional societies, which represent the interests of physicians worldwide. The AMA is an independent, non-profit membership association, whose mission is to advance the health of people around the globe through high-quality, cost-effective and accessible health care. The AMA’s policies, established by its House of Delegates, define the profession’s principles and scientific standards. The AMA provides health information and advocacy to help its members do their best work. The AMA also works to promote the health of the public through partnerships with other organizations and through community programs.

Medical professional societies and associations offer a variety of benefits, including the opportunity to collaborate, develop professional relationships, present papers and learn techniques and treatments. In addition, the AMA and other doctor associations provide legal support to their members and help them navigate government regulations and insurance policies.

Most doctors belong to at least one state or local medical society. The 2018 Survey of American Physicians found that almost 80% of respondents belong to their national specialty societies and two thirds are members of their county medical society.

But not every doctor has the same motivation to join a physician organization. Younger physicians, for example, are less likely to join their state or local medical society. In addition, a growing number of doctors are choosing to leave the AMA for various reasons, including concerns about insurance company practices and scope-of-practice expansions.

As the AMA faces these challenges, it may be able to learn from its own history. The AMA was founded in 1847 during a time of racial tension and debate over slavery. The founders did not overtly disallow physicians of color from joining, but incidents at a couple of national meetings led to a policy that effectively excluded African American physicians.

Eventually, the AMA delegated membership decisions to the states, and by the 1960s, most state and local societies accepted black physicians. But in the aftermath of this change, the AMA’s power and influence began to decline.

In an attempt to boost its clout, the AMA began to promote the notion of a single, national medical association that could negotiate with insurance companies and fight against state laws expanding the practice of medicine outside the realm of its expertise.

Today, the AMA represents 116 national medical associations and more than 10 million physicians worldwide. The AMA maintains an office in the United States and operates through a network of regional offices around the world. The AMA Board of Directors oversees the organization’s day-to-day activities and programs, which are carried out by various commissions and committees. The AMA also appoints representatives to international health bodies and to the World Medical Association. The AMA’s policy statements on health topics are based on professional principles, scientific standards and experience.