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Why Won’t the AMA Stop Asking For Dues?

Author Information (click to view)

Skeptical Scalpel

Skeptical Scalpel is a recently retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last two years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 900 page views per day, and he has over 5900 followers on Twitter.

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Skeptical Scalpel (click to view)

Skeptical Scalpel

Skeptical Scalpel is a recently retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last two years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 900 page views per day, and he has over 5900 followers on Twitter.

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Magazines send frequent subscription "renewal" notices when you've decided to discontinue it or even when no prior subscription exists, hoping an office manager or secretary will pay the bill as a matter of routine. Is the AMA following suit?

Today I received another dues notice from the American Medical Association (AMA). For a mere $420.00 per year, I can become a member.

Over 10 years ago, I dropped out of the AMA because it seemed to be run by a bunch of old guys who were out of touch with the real issues of practicing medicine in the 21st century. Other than the included subscription to a journal, which was then called Archives of Surgery, I felt that I received no value from belonging.

Approximately every 3 months since then I have received notices like the one above from the organization. For over 10 years.

By now, you would think they might have a clue that I am not interested in rejoining, but the notices keep on coming. I realize the process is probably automated and the algorithm doesn’t sense the fact that I’m never going to respond.

There’s a scheme that some magazines run. They send you a “free” copy and if you don’t read the fine print, you get one every month. Then you get a bill.

A variation is this: Figuring that your address is a business, which is quite likely when someone is an MD, magazines send frequent subscription “renewal” notices when you’ve decided to discontinue your subscription or even when no prior subscription exists. What they are hoping for is that an office manager or secretary will see the notice and pay the bill as a matter of routine.

To illustrate this, note that I also discontinued my subscription to the New England Journal of Medicine a few years ago — but every 2 months I get a renewal notice as if I had been a subscriber all along.

I’m not saying I can prove that the AMA is doing this with the same intent, but why would they keep it up for so long?

Also, I wonder how much money they waste mailing these notices.

According to recent figures, only about 17% (217,000) of all US doctors and medical students are AMA members; 25% of them are over 65 years old, and enrollment is flat.

I’m not sure why anyone belongs. Any ideas?

Skeptical Scalpel is a recently retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last two years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 900 page views per day, and he has over 5,900 followers on Twitter.

9 Comments

  1. Ashesh and Iagree, thanks for the comments a support.

    Reply
  2. I too get sick of the constant mailings. I guess I’m a bad physician too for choosing to put my money elsewhere.

    Reply
  3. I completely agree- AMA belongs to “Govt” and did not care when they agreed to go with Obama’s plans and ACOs and what not.

    Reply
  4. The AMA, like any other membership organization, approaches physicians with membership opportunities. AMA membership is on the rise – in 2012, the AMA had more than a three percent membership increase. The AMA remains the largest physician organization in the nation with roughly a quarter of a million members – no other group even comes close. We will continue to advocate for policies that will help physicians thrive as we move medicine forward together.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the comment which is informative but does not address the issue of why the AMA keeps sending the dues notices.

      Reply
  5. Have you ever heard the term’:”ADVOCACY”???? wHY HAVEN’T YOU HAD A 30% DECREASE IN MEDICARE FEES THE LAST 10 YEARS??? dUMB LUCK??

    SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE BAILING OUT OF THE PROFESSION THAT YOU TOOK AN OATH TO UPHOLD!!!

    Reply
    • My copy of the Hippocratic Oath does not mention the AMA. Furthermore, it’s about one’s duty to the patient, not one’s medical society.

      Reply
      • Actually, you might want to re-read the Oath. It starts with swearing allegiance to one’s colleagues in the profession (treating my teacher as a parent, etc.) and it is, at core, a promise to uphold a set of shared professional responsibilities. These responsibilities include to one’s colleagues, to one’s individual patients, and to the local community. In this regard, it is not difficult to extrapolate from the Oath to an obligation to participate in professional associations. Osler once wrote: “You cannot afford to stand aloof from your professional colleagues in any place. Join their associations, mingle in their meetings, gathering here, scattering there; but everywhere showing that you are faithful students, as willing to teach as be taught.” And once, when asked by a student whether the student should attend a meeting of the local medical society for, after all, he wasn’t certain what he’d get out of it, Osler replied, “do you think I go for what I can get out of it, or for what I can put into it?’ Even when the organization doesn’t live up to its promise – which happens often enough to be dispiriting – the essence of the AMA is captured in that sense of professional colleagiality.

        Reply

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