Medical Societies

A medical society or association is an organization representing a particular group of medical professionals.

Medical societies or associations typically perform a variety of functions, incl.

  • developing standards of excellence, e.g. authoring medical guidelines [add link to that term]
  • educating physicians, e.g. by keeping them informed of new research and developments
  • advocating for the professional interest of their members
  • providing a broad professional network for physicians to interact with colleagues

A brief history

Medical societies in the US started emerging in the 18th century, mainly driven by the desire of medical professionals to implement standards and to differentiate themselves from untrained healthcare practitioners that thrived in the unregulated environment.

Initially medical societies were organized by geography, the American Medical Association (founded in 1847) first organized physicians on a national basis. In addition, in the late 19th and early 20th century physicians of different specialities started forming their own medical associations as medical knowledge grew.

Data and Facts

The Physician’s Foundation 2018 Survey of American Physicians report provides some insight into the membership of medical societies. In short: almost 80% of their survey respondents are members of their national specialty society and almost two thirds belong to their state medical society. Younger physicians (45 or younger) are less likely to join county or state medical societies but about as likely as their older colleagues to join their national medical society.

Relevance for Medical Affairs

For more information about how knowing whether an external expert holds a leadership position in a medical society can support medical affairs teams in identifying and prioritizing external experts read our blog [add name and link]

Medical Guidelines
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)