The Tennessee Medical Association (TMA) is a 6,800-member professional organization for medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy dedicated to protecting the health care interests of patients and enhancing the effectiveness of physicians throughout the state. Its headquarters is located in Nashville. Founded in 1830 as the Medical Society of Tennessee, the organization developed as the result of the recognition by the Tennessee General Assembly that “health is universally acknowledged to be essentially necessary to the happiness and prosperity of society.” The association gained strength in the twentieth century as the practice of medicine in Tennessee became guided by national professional standards and training.
The mission of today’s TMA is to provide leadership to support the unity and interaction of the state’s physicians. The TMA carries out this mission in four areas: promoting medical knowledge, science, and high standards of medical education; sustaining medical ethics and standards of competence in the healing arts; advocating laws and regulations that protect and enhance the physician-patient relationship and improve access and delivery of quality medical care; and promoting an understanding between the public and the medical profession.
Membership in the TMA is offered locally through fifty-one various chartered component or county medical societies, many of which have roots in the nineteenth century. Membership is open to all medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy who agree to stand by the founding principles of the medical society. The TMA is an effective lobbyist and manages the Independent Medicine’s Political Action Committee-Tennessee, or IMPACT. Physicians can receive legal assistance and advice through on-staff attorneys. The society promotes collegial development in a variety of ways: peer-to-peer networking opportunities through special membership divisions address the needs and interests of young physicians, medical students, and hospital staff physicians; annual meetings shape the practice of medicine in the state and provide opportunities to debate and develop policies; local and regional seminars and workshops offer opportunities for continuing education and collegial development; monthly magazines, newsletters, special communications pieces, a home page on the World Wide Web, and electronic online forums promote the exchange of ideas.