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TEXAS MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

TEXAS MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. In response to a published invitation sent by ten Austin doctors, thirty-five physicians from eighteen counties assembled in Austin on January 17, 1853 to organize the Texas Medical Association. The group wanted to advance the status and standards of medical practice in Texas. When forty-five members met again on November 14, 1853, they changed the society's name to the Medical Association of Texas. The Fifth Texas Legislature chartered the group on November 28, 1853. The Medical Association of Texas was inactive for the next sixteen years, but physicians in Texas organized several municipal and county societies (see MEDICAL SOCIETIES). In the spring of 1869, the Washington County Medical Association urged the revival of the state society. In June 1869 the Harris County Medical Association hosted a reorganizational meeting of the renamed Texas State Medical Association. In 1901 the group renamed itself the State Medical Association of Texas; in 1951 the original name, Texas Medical Association was reclaimed. The constitution of 1853 allowed "every gentleman of the Medical Profession" to become a member, but irregularly trained doctors were specifically excluded. An amendment of 1893 permitted membership to female physicians, but not to black doctors. In 1955 the racial ban was lifted, and osteopathic physicians were admitted in 1972.

Throughout the nineteenth century the association grew slowly. In 1880 the 269 members comprised only 10 percent of Texas physicians. After the reorganizational policies of the American Medical Association were instituted in 1903, membership grew dramatically, reaching 2,415 within a year. By 1954, 6,974 doctors-98 percent of all Texas physicians-were members. This number tripled by 1984, when the TMA became the third largest medical association in the United States. By the end of 1992 there were 31,973 members. The basic unit of organization is the local medical society, which enrolls members from one or more counties. In 1992 there were 119 of these societies, each separately chartered by the state. This arrangement follows the guidelines established by the AMA in 1903. The TMA is governed by a board of trustees, an executive board, and a house of delegates elected by local societies. The house had 400 members in 1989. The house of delegates met once a year until 1971, when it began meeting semiannually because of the growing volume of business. The various functions of the TMA are handled by fifty-four councils and committees, many of which meet during the association's annual spring meeting. A salaried executive vice president and a full-time staff of 192 employees work in the TMA headquarters in Austin, which was occupied in 1991. Since its founding, the TMA has encouraged postgraduate education through the scientific programs of its annual meetings and through special symposia. Established in 1922, the TMA library contains 60,000 books and journals, an extensive audiovisual and videocassette collection, and computers that provide access to numerous information and database services.

The TMA published annual Transactions between 1869 and 1904. In 1905 it began publishing a monthly scientific journal originally named Texas State Journal of Medicine and renamed Texas Medicine in 1966. The journal became primarily a medical news magazine in 1991. The TMA also publishes a monthly newsletter, Action, and provides other services to physicians including practice management workshops, a physician placement service, group insurance, and a special trust for professional liability insurance. (see MEDICAL JOURNALS IN EARLY TEXAS.) The TMA has always been a strong advocate for professional autonomy and for the integrity of the medical profession. Throughout its history, the organization has campaigned for effective medical practice legislation and the suppression of medical charlatanism. The TMA has supported important public health laws, including the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1907, the State Board of Health Bill in 1909, the Vital Statistics bills of 1916 and 1927, and the Indigent Health Care Bill of 1985. In recent decades, the TMA has monitored government health care proposals, especially those involving health care insurance, and new health care delivery systems, such as health maintenance organizations. Its political activities are supported by TEXPAC, the largest bipartisan political action committee in Texas and the fifth largest committee of its kind in the nation. During 1991 and 1992, the TMA supported the 1990–91 AIDS bill that appropriated more funds for AIDS education in Texas, the Omnibus Health Care Rescue Act that addressed problems of rural health care in the state, and legislation that required motorcyclists to wear helmets and automobile drivers and passengers to wear seat belts.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Pat Ireland Nixon, A History of the Texas Medical Association, 1853–1953 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1953). Florita Indira Sheppard, The Texas Medical Association: History, Organization and Influence (M.P.A. Report, University of Texas at Austin, 1980).

Megan Seaholm and Chester R. Burns

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Megan Seaholm and Chester R. Burns, "TEXAS MEDICAL ASSOCIATION," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/sat05), accessed September 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.