The inaugural meeting of the Midwestern Medical Directors Association was on September 15, 1954 in Indianapolis. The vision for the organization can be traced back to Dr. John Pearson, who at the time served as Medical Director for American United Life Insurance Company, also in Indianapolis. Based on positive experiences with a similar organization in the New England area, Dr. Pearson envisioned the MMDA as a vehicle to discuss educational topics of particular interest to founding members that were not being covered at a national level. From its onset there was a strong social element as well. In the words of Dr. Pearson, “It was expected that the meetings would provide an opportunity for Medical Directors to get to know another much better so that they would exchange ideas freely”.
The geographic scope of the organization began in rather arbitrary fashion: with the aid of a map, Dr. Pearson circled an area 200 miles in radius and invited all medical directors from life and health insurance within the circle to attend. Fifteen Medical Directors (from 15 companies) attended the initial organization soon followed by membership pledged from an additional twenty-one directors. The initial executive council was composed of: Dr. John Pearson (American United Life) as Chairman, Dr. John L. Humphreys (Lincoln National Life) as Vice Chairman, and Dr. William H. O’Neill (Franklin Life) as Secretary Treasurer. The names of the offices have since been renamed President and Vice President. Though the membership list has a geographic basis, meeting attendance has been open to all interested parties even from the outset.
Initially meetings were on a semi-annual basis comprised of a two and a half hour meeting followed by a reception. Over time this has transformed into an annual all-day meeting preceded by evening dinner. While academic lectures were avoided at earlier meetings (this was felt to be the purview of national organizations) the focus of discussions has evolved into a split of academic and industry based topics. A very popular and more recent addition to the meeting agenda has been the inclusion of a “Speaker’s Corner” which serves as an open forum discussion of current and future issues most pertinent in insurance medicine and risk assessment.
Despite challenges to the industry over the last several decades membership in the MMDA has always remained both consistent and strong. Feedback from members is that the organization remains true to its original mission to provide a complimentary forum for discussion to that occurring at the national level but with focus on regional commonalities and in an intimate collegial setting.
Note: This history is adapted from, “The Midwestern Medical Directors’ Association: A Brief History, By James C. Harris, M.D.”
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