Professional medical membership organizations exist in every state and for every medical specialty. Typically serving as physician advocates - especially to government sectors - these groups also provide opportunities for continuing education and networking and are a great resource for the busy medical practitioner. Here are summaries of and links to five of the leading national medical membership associations:
American Medical Association
The leading professional association for physicians of all disciplines, the AMA's mission is to promote the art and science of medicine, as well as the betterment of public health, focusing on the quality of care, cost, prevention and wellness, and payment models. Membership provides access to practice management tools, such as AMA PATH, an online self-auditing tool, that lets the physician practice develop and evaluate fee schedules and billing safeguards without hiring an expensive consultant. Membership also provides many other practice tools and tips, including access to the National Managed Care Contract database to help negotiate contracts with insurers. Physician members are listed in a publicly searchable database, the AMA DoctorFinder.
In addition to career and continuing education resources, membership also includes free medical journal subscriptions and financing discounts for acquisition, start-up, and expansion of a medical practice.
The American Academy of Family Physicians
The AAFP was founded in 1947 and represents more than 94,000 family physicians, medical residents and students nationwide, with chapters in every state. AAFP's mission is to promote and maintain cost-effective and high quality health care for patients of all ages. With the passage of health-care reform legislation, AAFP established a subsidiary, TransforMED, to provide resources for transformative practice redesign for primary care/family practices, so as to position them for a positive future. Another initiative of the Academy is The Center for Health Information Technology, to provide technical expertise, advocacy and member services through increased health information technology, such as access to medical office automation and computerization. Members-only benefits include insurance and retirement plans, hometown news releases, and discounted financial services.
American Academy Of Pediatricians
This national association of 60,000 pediatricians, with 59 chapters in the U.S., works toward the attainment of physical, mental, and social health and well-being for infants, children, adolescents and young adults nationwide. A major membership benefit is the wealth of continuing education courses, including the on-line tool, PediaLink. Practice Management Online provides best practice information on office, finance and payment operations and payment management. In addition to complimentary subscriptions to professional manuals and journals, members receive discounts on conference attendance, travel, and insurance programs.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The country's leading group of professionals providing health care for women, ACOG has more than 52,000 members and focuses on advocacy for quality health care for women and providing the highest standards of clinical practice and education. In addition to continuing medical education programs, news releases on current health topics, an online library, and a "career connection" jobs center, ACOG also assists its members with practice management, providing information on everything from government coding regulations to professional liability insurance and legislation to improving collections.
American College of Physicians
ACP is the national organization of internists, who are physicians who treat adults. It is the second largest physician organization in the United States, with over 130,000 members. ACP provides its members with clinical skills programs and the PIER online database (The Physicians' Information and Education Resource); practice management, including health information technology, and financial management, through its Center for Practice Improvement and Innovation; education certification and recertification; fellowship information; and mentoring programs for medical students. Benefits include insurance programs, networking, awards recognition, and access to ACP's Career Connection.
While medical practitioners may turn to their respective professional associations for most of their information and support, additional resources exist to help the busy physician keep up with government regulations, technology and the latest in patient care, while running the office too. Here are some resources that can be accessed right from your desk:
This editorially neutral online information source brings together content and tools to create a Web community for health professionals. Subject areas range from clinical perspectives to business perspectives to patient care, and educational products and an online marketplace are also available.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The FDA provides up-to-date information for health-care professionals on such important issues as drug approvals and recalls, new medical devices, and influenza virus vaccines.
The National Institute of Health Library is an open stacks biomedical research library with a comprehensive collection of medical and scientific information. Online books, journals and databases are all available from the Quick Links Index.
This podcast service is dedicated to medical practice management. Examples of subjects recently covered include reaching into specific communities to expand a patient base; how to give and receive feedback effectively; and controlling practice exposure.