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The Indiana State Medical Association annual convention provides an opportunity for physicians to come together to discuss problems, and better yet, formulate solutions. By defining our pressing needs, we can direct lobbying activities in the state legislature and inform policy leaders of needed changes to help us professionally and our patients holistically.
ISMA and county societies exist for members. Traditionally members have been able to fully participate in advocacy within our state through county society activity. The ISMA, in the past, has encouraged county society work, evidenced in the bylaws studied by the Future Directions Task Force. One of the resolutions proposed this year, Resolution 18-24 is a result of the task force which states that its goal is to protect the vitality of ISMA by eliminating barriers to membership.
I have a special request from each of you reading this. Please contact the ISMA prior to September 27, through the website ismanet.org, phone 317-261-2060 or FAX 317-261-20176 to express concerns in opposition to Resolution 18-24.
The resolution will harm county medical societies by placing them in direct competition with ISMA for members. The resolution was considered in 2017. The House of Delegates asked the Board of Trustees to reconsider the relevant portion for study. The board asked the task force to expand its representation of large and small counties within its committee. I was selected to be an additional IMS representative. There was only one meeting held, in May 2018. I asked for materials to bring myself up to date on the issue, but was told I wouldn’t need any. The discussion was lively, but the voting block had been carefully set to assure that this resolution would be proposed as you see it today. With no context provided to the newest members of the task force, this seemed disingenuous to me.
The discussion needs to be conducted with more thought as to strengthen local society relevancy as vital for meeting physicians’ needs. The county societies provide forums for discussions for local issues, networking with community resources, leadership development, and mentorship for participation in the ISMA and AMA. The county society need ways to fund the infrastructure necessary to get people together, assure accurate collection of minutes and assure adherence to rules and regulations. Hiring knowledgeable people who are able to support physicians is the best way to get these things accomplished, but that requires funding. By not requiring county membership, with all the additional changes outlined in the resolution, county societies will not be able to attract members and one more avenue for physician engagement is destroyed.
If the goal is increasing membership and ensuring relevance, then our medical society should be focused upon serving our physicians’ needs at the points that the physician can easily access. This requires increased supportive and reciprocal communication and participation within both local and state societies. There are many other ways to solve this problem and I invite the author and task force participants to dedicate our efforts to finding a better solution.