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Is Joining a Medical Association a Worthy Investment?


Medical association fees can add up into the thousands each year if you join more than a few. What do you get out of it?

I recently attended a conference, during which the chair of the membership committee of the organization that conducted the conference invited us to join.  I had not really considered joining, but they were having a discount on the membership fee, and well, I'm not one to pass up a bargain.  I figured I'd use the next year and get discounted CME credits through their website.  The question is do I re-up my membership next year?  And the bigger questions I posed to myself was "How many organizations do I need to join?", "To how many organization do my peers belong?" and "What really is the cost-benefit?"

I am a member of the Endocrine Society, the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the American College of Endocrinologists.  And now I am a member of the Obesity Medicine Association.  As an endocrinologist, I could also join the American Thyroid Association, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators to name a few.  I could also join the Medical Group Management Association or the American Medical Association (I gave up on that one a long time ago).

Each membership costs hundreds of dollars a year.  If you're a fellow, it costs more (which actually makes no sense to me.  Seems to me that if you are given a distinction due to your work and achievements you should have extra perks, but I digress).  If you belong to three or four associations, the fees can easily add up to thousands of dollars.

And what does one get in return for these membership fees? Many annual dues include a free subscription to one of the organization's journal and a discount on additional subscriptions.  Most will have discounted rates for conferences and CME.  Some have weekly or monthly newsletters, daily email news, and online access to resources.  Some have mentorship programs and practice management resources.  They are also advocates in Washington so physicians and patients can have their voices heard.  The associations also provide a venue for like-minded professionals to share thoughts, both about the science of medicine and the practice thereof.  And if you're a fellow, you get to add a few extra letters of the alphabet after your MD.  

There are many benefits to being part of an organization of people who understand what you do and why.  I am curious to know to how many the average physician belongs to and if they feel it's a worthy investment.

Feel free to let me know in the comments section below.

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