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American Medical Association (AMA)

The American Medical Association (AMA) is the largest medical professional association in America. It was founded in New York city in 1847 by Nathan Smith Davis, a young doctor who wanted a national body to raise medical education standards in the United States and improve the public’s health. Medicine and the American medical marketplace were unregulated.

The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 ended the patent medicine market. The 1910 publication of the Flexner report then severely criticised medical school standards in the United States and Canada. Following these events the AMA became the most powerful medical organisation in the United States. It has since shaped medical education and national health policies in the USA. The AMA also works with the FDA to regulate prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and represents the medical profession at the highest federal level. It fought discrimination against AIDS patients in the 1980s, and campaigned against family violence, tobacco and underage drinking.

The AMA has opposed physicians being involved in deliberately ending lives. It strongly opposes doctors’ involvement in both physician-assisted suicide and carrying out the death penalty.

The AMA has recently campaigned to provide medical care for uninsured patients. Critics accuse it of looking out for members’ salaries and not enough for patients’ interests. The AMA is also criticised for holding a monopoly over the representation of biomedical practitioners.

Related Themes and Topics


Related links


C F Ameringer, The Health Care Revolution: From Medical Monopoly to Market Competition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008)

F D Campion, The AMA and U.S. Health Policy since 1940 (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1984)

American Medical Association, Caring for the Country: A History and Celebration of the First 150 Years of the American Medical Association (Chicago: AMA, 1997)



Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease caused by infections resulting from a weakened immune system due to the HIV virus. It leads to failure of the immune system and is usually fatal. It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.