The AMA Foundation: 56 years of giving
■ The philanthropic arm of the AMA helps support physician education, medical research and patient care.
Posted April 10, 2006.
The medical community has a long-standing tradition of service to patients, the community and the profession. Few organizations have exemplified the finest elements of this tradition as well as the American Medical Association Foundation, the AMA's philanthropic arm.
Now in its 56th year, it continues to financially support deep-rooted activities in three basic areas:
Education. Support of medical students remains a key part of Foundation activities. Through its partnership with the AMA Alliance, the Foundation's Scholars Fund provides about a half million dollars in tuition aid each year; over the past 50 years, the total is nearly $90 million.
Also, the Foundation provides about $250,000 each year in scholarships and educational awards.
The Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship program provides scholarships directly to rising fourth-year medical students. In 2005 the fund awarded four $10,000 scholarships. It expects to hand out 10 scholarships for that amount this year. Also in 2005, the Foundation awarded 10 $10,000 scholarships to minority medical students through its second annual Minority Scholars Award program, supported by the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative.
Research. The Foundation backs this cornerstone of medicine. It provides more than $85,000 each year through its Seed Grant Research Program, recently announcing this year's 40 recipients of $1,500 to $2,500 grants in six research categories. The Foundation also is the lead sponsor of the National and Regional Student Research Forums, with an $85,000 annual contribution.
Service. The Foundation sponsors public education campaigns and supports community service efforts nationwide. In addition to service awards for physicians, the Foundation operates the Fund for Better Health, which provides funding to AMA-affiliated organizations addressing health literacy, anti-tobacco activities and violence prevention.
Another service activity is the Health Literacy Train-the-Trainer program, which teaches doctors how to recognize and respond to patients who have a hard time reading or understanding medical information. The program began when a group of four master trainers initially educated 37 participants in 2003. Those physicians took their skills home and held local training. After a Train-the-Trainer session in May 2005, the Foundation estimated that as many as 15,000 individuals had received health literacy training.
In addition to these areas, the Foundation continues to find new ways to help the profession and the patients it serves.
When disaster struck the Gulf Coast last year, the Foundation established the Health Care Recovery Fund, with the immediate goal of providing grants to physicians -- both AMA members and nonmembers -- whose practices were damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Fund, launched with $100,000 contributions from both the AMA and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute, also will be made available to physicians affected by future natural or man-made disasters designated disasters by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. To date, $592,000 in grants has been awarded to 250 physicians.
And the Foundation wants to ensure that money is there to benefit all generations of AMA physicians. In November 2005, the Foundation announced the "Uniting the Future of Medicine" donor fund-raising campaign, with a goal of raising $10 million over five years. The money will benefit four areas to which physicians can direct their money: The Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship; the General Endowment Fund; the Healthy Communities/Healthy America Fund, which provides grants and other support to physician-led clinics that provide free or low-cost care to uninsured populations; and the Future of Medicine Fund, which allows the Foundation to respond to immediate needs that arise. To date, $1.3 million has been raised.
There are many charitable and philanthropic organizations much larger than the AMA Foundation. But the manner in which the Foundation gathers and distributes resources makes it truly noteworthy. It is an organization of and for the medical community. Its goals of improving the profession and advancing the level of patient care make it an organization of which all of medicine can be proud.