The AMA Council on Long Range Planning and Development released a report on the demographics of AMA leadership and membership (PDF) in advance of the organization's annual House of Delegates meeting June 15-19 in Chicago. Coincidentally, the Federation of State Medical Boards also recently released a census of actively licensed physicians in the U.S., which provides a handy comparison.
According to the FSMB census, there were 878,194 physicians with an active license in the U.S. last year. According to the AMA, it had 224,503 members in 2012—though 22.2% of these were medical students who had not yet earned their license.
A comparison shows that AMA membership tracked well with the FSMB census according to gender—but AMA leadership, not so much.
The FSMB said 65.9% of the nation's doctors were men, 30.2% were women, and it didn't know about the remaining 4%.
AMA membership was reported as 68.7% male and 31.3% female. The 495-member House of Delegates, however, was 79.8% male and only 20.2% female. Maybe some may argue this was evened out by having its 20-person board include 12 men and eight women for a 60-40 split.
The age range of physicians in the census hardly tracks at all with the ranges of AMA membership and leadership. The only real matching data point is that the census reports that 24.5% of U.S. physicians are between 50 and 59 years old and the percentage of AMA delegates in that range is 24.2%.
According to the FSMB, 22.2% of the nation's doctors are under 40 years old; 24.6% are between 40 and 49; 24.5% are 50-59; 17.3%, 60-69; and 9% are 70 or older. (The FSMB was missing age data on 2.4% of physicians.)
In the AMA House of Delegates, 10.7% are under 40 years old; 11.7% are between 40 and 49; 24.2% are 50-59; 35.4%, 60-69; and 18% are 70 or older.
Among all AMA members, 43.7% are under 40 years old; 11.3% are between 40 and 49; 13.8% are 50-59; 11.1%, 60-69; and 20.2% are 70 or older.
While some view these disparate stats as a problem, it could be argued with equal fervor that it represents an opportunity. The reason why AMA age demographics don't track with the general physician population is because the AMA is getting younger.
With students making up 22.2% of its membership and residents accounting for another 17%, close to 44% of AMA members have yet to celebrate their 40th birthday.
So, at the very least, critics who refer to AMA members as an old boys' network may need to find a new complaint.
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks