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American Medical Association – Definition & Overview

American Medical Association – Definition & Overview


The American Medical Association is a professional association of physicians in the United States. Furthermore, it is amongst the country’s largest and most influential medical organizations.

Mission and Purpose of American Medical Association (AMA):

The mission of American Medical Association is to encourage the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. It aims to advance the profession of medicine, advocate for physicians and patients, and improve the nation’s health.

History of American Medical Association:

The American Medical Association originated in 1847, emerged in response to the need for standardized medical education and practice in the United States. Initially concerned with medical education reform, it developed to become a leading professional organization for physicians, headquartered in Chicago.

The association’s prominent role prolonged, advocating for physicians and shaping healthcare policy. Remarkable achievements include the development of a Code of Medical Ethics and publishing the extensively circulated Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Despite facing criticisms, the association remains dynamic in advancing the medical profession and improving public health.

Membership of American Medical Association (AMA):

Membership in the association is chiefly composed of practicing physicians and medical students. The association has a diverse membership, including:

  1. Physicians: The majority of AMA members are practicing physicians from various specialties and subspecialties. The association represents an array of professionals across different fields of medicine.
  2. Medical Students: The association actively involves medical students in its activities. Medical student members can be involved with the organization, participate in events, and contribute to the future of the medical profession.
  3. Residents and Fellows: Individuals in postgraduate training programs, such as residents and fellows, are also eligible for membership. This allows early-career physicians to connect with the larger medical community.
  4. Health Professionals: While physicians constitute the majority of AMA membership, the association is free to access for other health professionals who may be interested in the AMA’s goals and activities.

Activities and Advocacy of American Medical Association:

The AMA is involved in a wide range of activities, including:

  • Advocating for the interests of physicians & patients before Congress and other government agencies.
  • Developing and promoting ethical guidelines for physicians such as the Code of Medical Ethics.
  • Providing continuing medical education for physicians.
  • Conducting research on health care issues.
  • Publishing medical journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

In addition, the association has numerous member groups, such as the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians, representing the interests of specific specialties or types of physicians.

Additional Overview and Aspects of American Medical Association:

Here’s an overview of main aspects related to the AMA:

Structure and Governance of AMA:

The AMA is governed by a House of Delegates, composing of representatives from various medical societies and organizations. The House of Delegates sets policy and provides direction to the organization. Additionally, it has a Board of Trustees responsible for the day-to-day operations.

Code of Medical Ethics of AMA:

The association has developed a Code of Medical Ethics that guides physicians in their professional demeanor. It covers topics such as patient-physician relationships, informed consent, confidentiality, and the ethical challenges physicians may face.

Continuing Medical Education (CME):

The AMA provides educational resources and opportunities for physicians to engage in continuous learning. This includes accredited CME programs that help physicians stay current with advancements in medicine and maintain their licensure.

Public Health Initiatives of AMA:

The American Medical Association is involved in numerous public health initiatives, including efforts to address health discrepancies, combat the opioid epidemic, and promote preventive care. The organization collaborates with several stakeholders to improve overall community health.

Health Policy and Research of AMA:

The AMA performs research and develops policy recommendations on various healthcare issues. It aims to contribute to evidence-based policy-making and influence healthcare transformation.

Challenges and Criticisms of the American Medical Association (AMA):

However, being a prominent and influential organization, the association has encountered various challenges and criticisms over the years. Some of these include:

  1. Advocacy Focus: Critics argue that the AMA’s advocacy efforts sometimes prioritize physicians’ interests over comprehensive healthcare system improvements.
  2. Healthcare Access and Disparities: Criticizers argue that the organization should be more active in advocating for policies addressing these concerns and promoting equitable healthcare for all.
  3. Affordability of Membership: Some physicians claim that the cost of AMA membership is relatively high, especially for younger physicians, residents, and medical students.
  4. Response to Public Health Issues: The AMA has faced scrutiny for its responses to certain public health issues. For instance, debates have ascended over the organization’s positions on topics such as gun violence, opioids, and vaccination mandates.


In conclusion, the American Medical Association (AMA) has played a pivotal role in modelling the landscape of American healthcare since its founding in 1847. As a leading professional organization for physicians, the association has advocated medical education standards, ethical practices, and advancements in healthcare.

However, as it is praised for its contributions to medical research through publications like the Journal of the American Medical Association, it has additionally faced criticisms.

Debates about the organization’s advocacy focus, political influence, and responsiveness to evolving public health issues highlight its challenges. As healthcare continues to evolve, the association’s ability to address these concerns, represent diverse perspectives and adapt to varying dynamics will be crucial in fulfilling its mission to endorse the art and science of medicine for the well-being of public health.

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