What Is the History of the American Medical Association?

The American Medical Association (AMA) is the largest professional organization for physicians in the United States. Founded in 1847, the AMA has a long and storied history that has helped shape the practice of medicine in America.

The Early Years

The AMA was founded in Philadelphia by a group of physicians who wanted to establish standards for medical education and practice. At the time, there were few regulations governing the medical profession, and many people practiced medicine without any formal training or credentials.

In its early years, the AMA focused on improving medical education and establishing ethical standards for physicians. It also worked to improve public health by promoting sanitation and hygiene practices.

The Rise of Specialization

As medicine became more complex, physicians began to specialize in different areas of practice. In response to this trend, the AMA created specialty boards to certify doctors in various fields of medicine. Today, there are over 30 specialty boards that are recognized by the AMA.

The rise of specialization also led to increased competition among physicians. To address this issue, the AMA created a code of ethics that prohibited doctors from engaging in unethical practices such as fee splitting and advertising.

Political Activism

Throughout its history, the AMA has been involved in political issues related to healthcare. In the early 20th century, it lobbied for legislation that would regulate the manufacture and sale of drugs. In later years, it became involved in debates over Medicare and other government healthcare programs.

Today, the AMA continues to be influential on healthcare policy issues at both the state and federal levels. It is also involved in efforts to improve access to healthcare for underserved communities.


The American Medical Association has played an important role in shaping the practice of medicine in America. From its early focus on education and ethics to its current involvement in political issues related to healthcare, the AMA has been a driving force in the field of medicine for over 170 years.