In a low-key but abrupt break with tradition, the nation's third-oldest medical-specialty board recently severed its 71-year relationship with the American Medical Association, claiming the AMA is out of step with key issues involving women.
While the divorce initiated by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology is little more than a token protest with no tangible impact on the 290,000-member AMA, it reinforces concerns among many specialists that the Chicago-based doctors' group has become an ineffective advocate and partner.
"It's a shame it's gotten to the point that they represent so few of us," said Norman Gant, M.D., executive director of the Dallas-based board, which certifies OB/GYNs as well as several subspecialties. "I think the AMA has been too slow in recognizing the changes going on in medicine. And it became obvious that we didn't appear very significant to them."
The AMA's role with the ABOG was limited and ceremonial. It served as a voluntary sponsor, nominating two members of the society's 10-person board of directors.
Gant said the organization was upset because the AMA failed for almost five years to respond to pleas for support of a proposal to include "women's health" in the specialty board's title.
Gant said his group wanted the AMA's support before it sought the required approval for the name change from the American Board of Medical Specialties. Gant said his board has now decided to postpone plans for the name change.
"The AMA didn't take a stance one way or another (on the name change)," said an AMA spokesman. "And (the specialty board) got all riled up. It's very unfortunate."