An Update: AMA Apologizes for Racist History
.... In 2005, the AMA convened and supported an independent panel of experts to study the history of the racial divide in organized medicine, and the culmination of this work prompted the apology. Details of the panel's work will be made public on the Web site of the AMA's Institute for Ethics to coincide with publication in the July 16 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).*
The American Medical Association (AMA) was founded by physicians from the University of Pennsylvania in 1847and in that year, hosted a two day convention.
The convention's two main points of focus: a code of ethics and standards for medical education and training. Black physicians were not allowed entry into the organization.
In response to their exclusion, Black doctors formed the National Medical Association (NMA) in 1895, which the AMA refused to acknowledge.
According to this article found at Medpagetoday.com:
Over the years, the AMA turned away many efforts by the NMA and others groups seeking closer ties. For example, in 1944, the AMA rejected a proposal that NMA members be allowed "associate membership" in the AMA.
Dr. Wynia and colleagues found the AMA failed to adopt 10 separate proposals from 1948 to 1965 to expand African-American membership.
It was not until the late 1960s that the AMA began applying anti-discrimination policies to its state affiliates.The AMA did not require state level chapters to desegregate until 1968.
The AMA apology, along with commentary, is to appear in a soon to be published edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
An abstract from the article, available on line for purchase at the JAMA website, states:
Like the nation as a whole, organized medicine in the United States carries a legacy of racial bias and segregation that should be understood and acknowledged. For more than 100 years, many state and local medical societies openly discriminated against black physicians, barring them from membership and from professional support and advancement. The American Medical Association was early and persistent in countenancing this racial segregation. Several key historical episodes demonstrate that many of the decisions and practices that established and maintained medical professional segregation were challenged by black and white physicians, both within and outside organized medicine. The effects of this history have been far reaching for the medical profession and, in particular, the legacy of segregation, bias, and exclusion continues to adversely affect African American physicians and the patients they serve.
According to an article at Baltimoresun.com, dated July 11:
Without membership in medical societies, black physicians were denied admitting privileges at hospitals, financial support such as loans to open practices, leases for office space and even medical malpractice insurance, said Dr. Matthew Wynia, director of the AMA's Institute of Ethics. Continuing education was also difficult because black doctors couldn't attend meetings to learn about new treatments and research.
Click here for the original article.
From the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) paper titled, African Americans Physicians and Organized Medicine, 1846-1968: Origins of a Racial Divide, appearing in the issue dated July 16, 2008:
In the United States, organized medicine emerged from a society deeply divided over slavery, but largely accepting of systemic racial inequities and theories espousing black inferiority. Emblematic of existing societal values, and practices within the profession, medical schools, residency programs, hospital staffs and professional societies largely excluded African Americans. For more than 100 years, many medical associations, including the AMA, actively reinforced or passively accepted this exclusion. Still, throughout this history, vocal groups of physicians- black and white and within and outside these associations - challenged segregation and racism.
From a report entitled, Report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, released by the AMA:
Almost thirty years ago and over one hundred years after the end of the Civil War, our nation was confronting head-on the racial hatred that is all too evident in our history. The civil rights movement was in full blossom, blatant segregation was disappearing and many people were smug in the assumption that "we shall overcome." However, while our society did not appear to be agitated on the surface, the reality of persistent racial tension springing from our history of inequality was rolling to the point where actions were about to be taken that would demonstrate the intensity of the need for empowerment in the minority communities.
The summer of 1967 witnessed horrendous examples of racially based disorders in American cities, most notably in Detroit and Newark, and prompted President Johnson to appoint a special commission under the leadership of then Illinois Governor Otto Kerner. The Commission's 1968 report, Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorder, examined the root causes of what The New York Times characterized as the "violent racial crisis in America today."
The disparity in meeting the health care needs of the non-white population was cited by the Commission as one factor underlying this racial crisis. ....