In 1989, Dr. Ethel Weinberg of Baystate Medical Center was curious to know how the dollars raised in her own research program compared to other non-university hospitals. She developed a questionnaire to gauge such activity, and, upon receiving an overwhelming response, the Alliance of Independent Academic Medical Centers took its first step toward inception.
At that year’s AAMC meeting, Dr. Weinberg gathered several colleagues to discuss the formation of an association for independent teaching hospitals. Participants shared the amount of financial support from their medical schools to their respective home institution and discovered that the numbers ranged from zero to millions of dollars. Emerging from that candid conversation was a united and unwavering support for the formation of a new association, and its name: the Alliance of Independent Academic Medical Centers (AIAMC). The purpose of the organization was to provide true benchmarking data for independent academic medical centers; and, to increase representation of independent academic medical centers at a national level.
Early supporters from that and other initial meetings included Les Sandlow, MD; Jim Lewis, MD; Steve Larned, MD; Jim Klinenberg, MD; Charlie Daschbach, MD; and Ed Rothschild, MD, several of whom went on to serve as AIAMC President and board members. It was individuals from this founding party that met with then-AAMC President, Bob Petersdorf, MD to present their data: the substantial percentage of residents being trained in independent academic medical centers; and, the inverse relationship of these institutions’ representation on national councils. Until then, university hospitals dominated membership in such organizations, though, thanks in large part to the data collected and presented by the initial group of dedicated physicians, Alliance members now represent the needs of the independent academic medical center via their leadership roles on COTH, the ACGME and its Institutional Review Committee, the AHA, the NRMP and the AAMC's Group on Resident Affairs (GRA).
Additionally, the Section on Resident Affairs, which would later become the Group on Resident Affairs, was formed following the meeting with the AAMC, with the specific intent of independent academic medical center inclusion.
Now considered one of the leaders in quality and patient safety, the AIAMC’s early focus on graduate and undergraduate medical education has grown to provide additional expertise to the membership’s impressive research activities and other specialty interest groups. Although the initiatives and activities may change, the guiding principles will continue to lead this group for future growth.