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ACMT Members: Join AMA!

President’s Perspective: ACMT Members: Join AMA!

For the last 2+ years, I have used a variety of forums to encourage you – our members – to join the American Medical Association (AMA) so that Medical Toxicology can have a formal voice in the “house of organized medicine.”

Thank you to those of you who have joined – in particular, our Board of Directors; and thank you to those who have pushed back - asking why you should give (yet more) money to (another) national organization! Rather than just respond with the AMA tagline “Membership Drives Medicine”, I would like to take this opportunity to break that bumper sticker sentiment down and answer the question “How is that expense worth it for me?” that underlies the resistance to join yet another organization.

First, let me begin with some background and data:

  • In order to maintain our participation in the Specialty and Service Society (SSS), we need to double our membership from the current ~50 ACMT members who are also AMA members to above 100 (and maintain that) - and we need to do that with this membership drive before the end of 2018.
  • A survey of the ACMT Board of Directors’ and their clinical/academic groups indicated that the majority were not AMA members because of the cost ($420 annually), but that the majority would join in order to enhance the specialty of medical toxicology and have input on issues of importance to the specialty.

That is what our continued presence in the SSS and eventual representation on the AMA House of Delegates can provide.

So, “How is that expense worth it for me?”: All of the individual membership benefits (litigation support, discounts on all types of insurance, access to daily eNews briefs, etc.) may be available through your own workplace or another professional group; and the discounts available (if all members of a group join the AMA) may not be enough of a draw. You may also have significant impact locally within your county or state medical society. But, the benefits to the specialty of medical toxicology from national representation are significant. We are a small group with potentially broad impact on all of medicine and society – from acute care, to reassurance and risk communication, to medication safety, to impacting the opioid epidemic, to chemical terrorism and preparedness – but our visibility and viability are threatened by our size, and by many third party impacts on access and reimbursement. 

At this month’s AMA interim meeting, I was able to speak to the complex issue of patient privacy vs disclosure of methadone maintenance in the PDMP. Patient safety should drive the use of that data source, and unknown methadone use is a patient safety issue, whether we are prescribing new medication, assessing altered mental status, or evaluating a prolonged QT interval. At this meeting, there were additional resolutions under debate related to opioid prescribing, tobacco and e-cigarettes, preregistration for biomedical research to avoid biased reporting, telemedicine, and reimbursement/CMS requirement issues related to clinical practice, among many others.

Please join the AMA today when you renew your ACMT membership. Then evaluate over the next year or two how much of an impact our presence makes on improving your ability to practice medical toxicology – and I trust you will be able to join me in saying that the expense is worth it for me!

Chuck McKay