The Finnish Medical Association
The Finnish Medical Association is a professional organisation whose members represent more than 95 per cent of all Finnish physicians. The aims of the Association are:
• to develop physicians' work;
• to raise the physicians' professional standards;
• to encourage good fellowship among physicians;
• to maintain a high standard of professional ethics;
• to safeguard physicians' financial interests and working conditions;
• to participate in formulating health policy and in the development of healthcare.
The Finnish Medical Association was founded in 1910. Today the FMA has about 1 7,000 members. After four years of studies licensed physicians and medical students are invited to apply for membership.The highest decision-making body of the FMA, the Delegate Committee, is elected by the members every three years. The Delegate Committee assembles at least twice a year. It elects the Executive Board and the President of the Association. The Board meets every three weeks and appoints the commissions, committees and working groups, trying to ensure a full representation of different physician groups such as general practitioners, hospital doctors and younger doctors.The office of the FMA has five departments falling under the headings of administration, negotiation, organisational matters (ie, 'trade union' matters), education and finance. The Association journal, Suomen Laakarilehti (the Finnish Medical journal), is a unit of its own.
The number of employees is now 50.The Association plays a consultative role in health policy development programmes and legislation. The high rate of membership provides a good basis for influencing decisions. The Association also plays an active role in developing the system of family doctors and the quality of assurance of health services. FMA's Quality Committee promotes quality education, keeps records about clinical guidelines, and grants quality diplomas to healthcare organisations which meet the standards.As a medical expert and consultant body, the Association also studies ethical questions arising with the advancement of medical technology, fresh research methods and new medical treatments. The Association regards high professional ethics as a primary element of reliable healthcare. The ethics committee is preparing the third edition of the book Physicians' Ethics to be sent to all new members.The Association works to safeguard the interests of its members.Besides salaries, attention is given to working hours, on-call duties and working conditions in general. The Association also ensures that the rules set by hospitals and health centres are appropriate from the physicians' point of view.
The Association is also concerned with education. Already in the 1930s the FMA started to arrange further education for doctors. This activity has now expanded to a large annual Medical Congress. Each year more than a third of Finland's physicians participate in this one-week congress, which offers nearly 100 separate courses and symposia; foreign lecturers also being invited to ensure international communication and up-to-date information.The Association has founded a company, Fennomed, which offers courses throughout the year on subjects such as medical administration, economics and data processing.Publishing also forms a part of the educational activities. The Finnish Medical Journal appears in 36 issues a year. The Association also publishes professional books and booklets.The Finnish Medical Association is a member of the World Medical Association, the Permanent Standing Committee of Doctors of the European Union (CP), the Europen Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS), the European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO) and the Council of Nordic Medical Associations.