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AMA: it’s for the members

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Members are the heart of every membership organisation, and the AMA is no different.

The Constitution to be put to members at the Annual General Meeting on 23 May frames the centrality of members in the AMA through two fundamental objects of the Association – to protect and advance members’ interests, and to influence health policy and health debate in the society in which members live and work.

All AMA activities can be sourced back to these objects.

Beyond the work of the AMA in supporting its members and their interests through medico-political advocacy, the AMA is constantly evaluating the services it provides to members.

The membership profile of the AMA (and the profession more broadly) is changing.

There has been a rapid increase in the number of doctors graduating from medical school, faced with the immediate challenge of finding training places.

Half the graduates are women, many of whom will be looking for more flexible working models which balance professional practice with young families as, indeed, will many male doctors.

More members work in group practices.

And there is a cohort of doctors who have been very loyal long-term members who are now approaching retirement, but who don’t want to lose the connection with their Association.

The AMA has to be relevant to all of these members and support them in their professional lives.

In late 2013 the national AMA leadership (State Presidents and the Federal Executive Council) met over a weekend to develop a strategic roadmap for the Association.

Membership was a key part of the discussion, examining ways to ensure the ongoing relevance of the AMA, its activities and its services to the diverse interests of its membership.

A national Membership Taskforce has been established under the chairmanship of Christine Kane, Executive Officer of AMA WA. The Taskforce has evolved from an earlier iteration, and has been given the brief to work with me in identifying member needs and delivering programs to meet those needs.

For the first time, a national survey of AMA members will be undertaken in 2014, with the expectation that the results will inform member engagement strategies.

While corporate benefits are not the primary driver for a doctor to become a member of the AMA, we want to ensure that the benefits that are offered are meaningful to members. We also want to know that the information that we provide to members, and the way we communicate, is useful.

Very shortly, the AMA and its subsidiary company, Australasian Medical Publishing Company Pty Limited (AMPCo), which publishes the Medical Journal of Australia and the Medical Directory of Australia, will be launching an online platform to be known as Doctor Portal.

The platform will hold a wide range of information, tools and resources which are of use to doctors. The platform will only be open to doctors (medical students will be given access in a later version).

Apart from resources, the platform will enable online forums to be created between groups of doctors. It won’t be limited to AMA members, but there will be benefits that only members receive (or receive at reduced or no cost).

Look out for the launch!