Every medical professional should keep their professional membership up to date to at least three professional organizations. I recommend joining your state professional organization, national organization, and at least one organization unique to your area of medicine. 

Often times, the first question that may come to mind when deciding whether to hand over membership dues to an organization is, “What’s in it for me?”

Four things:

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  • Advocating for your profession
  • Promoting access to care
  • Improving the healthcare system
  • Tangible benefits such as journals, conferences and networking opportunities.

Many professional organizations are non-profit groups run by volunteers.  These volunteers are traditionally our collegues who have taken time away from their family, work and hobbies to volunteer on our behalf. Remember that most organizations make budgets and plan projects based on projected membership dues, so if you delay keeping up with your dues the organization cannot maximize their potential budget and projects that benefit you may suffer. Paying your dues on time is just as important as keeping your medical license or malpractice insurance up to date.

The biggest mistake you can make if you disagree with the direction of a professional organization to which you belong is discontinuing your membership. Once you are no longer a member your voice is silent. You have zero ability to impact that organization’s future agenda or projects. The most effective route is keeping your membership current and taking the lead — set the agenda!  If that’s not a possible option for you, continue your membership and contact the current leadership to express your concerns.  But remember not to only contact your volunteer leaders when you are unhappy or dissatisfied. It is important to thank colleagues who take leadership roles.