Updating a recent report painting a grim picture of membership losses, the AMA says its membership decline markedly slowed this year compared with last year.
The organization says its 2003 membership decline of 3.8%, already reported by Modern Physician on Monday, is much lower than a loss last year of 8%, which the organization is now reporting.
A board of trustees report released by the AMA at its interim meeting last week does not appear to mention a slowdown in loss of members. Instead, it notes that that AMA's loss of members has "intensified during the past three years."
In addition, an AMA board member, Cecil Wilson, M.D., told Modern Physician that AMA membership has been declining at an average rate of 1.3% per year for the past 15 years, which is a more moderate slide than the 3.8% decline reported for this year.
Still, the AMA board report and AMA officials present a few promising developments, such as:
- The AMA signed up 2.3% more new members in 2003 than in 2002, but these gains were overwhelmed by losses of existing members, resulting in a net loss.
- Loss of existing members slowed down this year, with member retention rates rising by 2% over the year before.
- Dues income this year fell by 1.5%, lower than the overall membership loss.
On the other hand, the board report notes that the membership loss is "greatest" among active physicians, where the AMA now has a 20% market share.
AMA officials report that membership reached a high of 297,000 in 1988, but it has often stood at the current level of 250,000 at various points during the past 20 years.
Total number of U.S. physicians and medical students, meanwhile, keeps rising, which explains why the AMA now reports a 26% market share, compared with more than 40% in the mid-1990s.