In 1933 in an article in the Journal of the National Medical Association, Dr. G. Hamilton Francis proposed the organization of a woman’s auxiliary. Many past presidents of NMA along with other NMA members and wives encouraged the establishment of such an auxiliary. Medical wives voiced their desire for an organization where they could have an interest vital to them, rather than meeting only for pleasure. In support of an auxiliary, attention was drawn to the successful program of the already established Virginia State Auxiliary to the Old Dominion Medical Society, under the leadership of Mrs. D. W. Byrd of Norfolk, Virginia.
On August 20, 1936, the dream of many NMA members and wives became a reality when a group of approximately fifty-four wives of members of NMA met at a convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and formed a temporary auxiliary. At this meeting, Mrs. John T. Givens (Alma Wells) of Norfolk, Virginia, served as the temporary chairman and Mrs. J.J. Thomas of St. Louis, Missouri served as the secretary. Doctors D. W. Byrd, M.O. Bousfield and J. H. Hale served as their advisors. A committee was appointed to draft a constitution. The wives later decided to meet the following year with plans to form a permanent organization.
On August 19, 1937 in St. Louis, Missouri, Mrs. Givens was elected as the first president and proclaimed the Founder of the Woman’s Auxiliary to the National Medical Association. All other temporary officers were elected as the first officers. After much hard work, the first auxiliary’s primary aim was to encourage a better relationship between families of men in the allied sciences as well as render service to their communities.
The Auxiliary continued to meet on an annual basis to coincide with the annual convention of the NMA, with the exception of 1943 and 1945, due to government restrictions. In April 1938 Mrs. Givens gathered together the women who had accompanied their husbands to the Annual Clinic at the John A. Andrews Memorial Hospital, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama for the first board meeting. Until 1943 that was the time and place of the Executive Board meetings of the Auxiliary.
Toward the end of the Auxiliary’s second year, membership grew to more than 300 women. Much later the membership was drawn from more than 5,000 physicians in more than 70 local and state medical societies, with membership distributed throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Today the membership is drawn from more than 8,000 Black physicians.
Many local and state auxiliaries were organized and divided into five major zones- central, eastern, northern, southern, and western, each headed by a zone director. The zone division was later changed into six regions to coincide with the regional areas of the NMA, each to be headed by a regional vice president.
In 1938 the first official news publication, entitled the Mouthpiece, was issued to the membership. It was originally printed quarterly. In 1978 the official publication became the Newsletter and was issued biannually.
In 1942 under the administration of Dr. Bessie B. Small of Denton, Maryland, the Auxiliary established a scholarship fund entitled the Alma Wells Givens Scholarship Fund named after our Founder. An endowment fund was appropriated for Meharry and contributions were collected from the members. Later the scholarship fees were included in the annual dues. In 1948-49 the first annual scholarships were presented to medical students at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. The medical school at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia was added in 1978, with the first presentation in 1980. Several members and friends contribute large amounts to this Fund.
In 1950 under the administration of Mrs. LeCount Matthews of Washington, DC, the Auxiliary adopted a Standardized Five Point Program to develop Auxiliary aims in Health, Education, Legislation, Community Needs, and Human Relations. In 1975 the Auxiliary changed to a Two Point Program on Health and Education, with subcategories on the other Three Points. The programs are implemented by the local and state auxiliaries and regions during the year and nationally during the convention.
Green and gold became the official national Auxiliary colors in 1953. Today, the local and state auxiliaries are required to adopt the same.
In 1961, Dr. Vaughn Mason and his brother established a scholarship in the Auxiliary in the name of their mother, Mrs. Omega Mason. This scholarship was then named the Omega Mason Nursing Scholarship and is presented annually to a nursing student during the conventions. However, the Auxiliary is free to give others since there were no stipulations for nurses only. In August 1979, this scholarship was renamed the Omega Mason Memorial Scholarship Award. Each member contributes to this Fund through dues, in addition to larger donations from members and friends.
Due to an increase in the Auxiliary activities and a heavier workload, the Board of Directors decided to hire its first staff in 1974. The title of the staff position was the Administrative Assistant/Office Manager. In 1975, the position was filled with the staff working with the Administrative Secretary in Washington, D.C., the Home Office located in the NMA office building.
In keeping up with the times, the Auxiliary membership saw a great need for restructuring its organization. In 1975, at its 39th Annual Convention in Miami, Florida, the membership decided to update the organization’s constitution and name, thereby enabling the increasing number of spouses of female physicians to become members. The organization’s name was changed from the founding designation of Woman’s Auxiliary to the National Medical Association to its present official name. Several male members have joined since 1975.
On July 26, 1977, the Auxiliary received its “Certificate of Incorporation under the provisions of the District of Columbia Nonprofit Corporation Act” and officially became a tax exempt corporation on October 2, 1978. After a probationary period of one year, the Auxiliary satisfied all the requirements set forth in the rules of the Internal Revenue Service. On April 9, 1980, the Auxiliary was classified as a publicly supported organization. The initial registered office is located in the NMA office building and the initial registered agent is the National Medical Association, Incorporated. The local and state Auxiliaries are required to apply for their own tax exempt status and incorporation.
For numerous years the national Auxiliary, within the planned cooperation of local and state auxiliaries and with the approval of the National Medical Association, sponsored the children’s program during the annual conventions. This was to encourage family participation and to increase attendance. After studying the feasibility of continuing the children’s program, which proved to be too great a responsibility for the national Auxiliary, the membership voted to relinquish it commencing in 1980.
In 1974, the Auxiliary established an annual Youth Forum to be held one day during convention. The proposal was approved and funded by the National Foundation, March of Dimes. The Forum included youths of the medical and community outreach families located in the convention city. The primary aims were to provide youths and with professional guidance and opportunities for peer idea exchange in areas of mental and physical health.
The main areas of concern were newborn health, health services, nutrition, and teenage pregnancies. In the near future this program will be expanded throughout the regions at the local and state levels.
At the 43rd annual convention held in Detroit, Michigan in August 1979, the membership voted to initiate a new structure- The House of Delegates, which would serve as the Legislative Body of the national Auxiliary with implementation commencing in 1980 at the annual convention in Dallas, Texas. Also in 1979, the Advisory Board, consisting of past national presidents, officially became the Presidents’ Council. In 1980, the Council became a separate body from the Board of Directors, with the rotating presidential chairman serving as the official representative for the Council on the Board. The Council continues to serve in an advisory capacity. Effective 1981, the President’s Council officially rejoined the Board of Directors.
In 1980 in Dallas, Texas, the House of Delegates voted to move to a National Convention concept. This Standard Committee is to be chaired by a National Convention Chairman, appointed by the President. The committee consists of representatives from each region and is responsible for planning scheduled social activities for the Convention with proceeds going to ANMA. At this time the name of the Omega Mason Memorial Nursing Scholarship was changed to Omega/Maude Bisson Memorial Nursing Scholarship.
Since the early 1970s, ANMA and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) have been working cooperatively by planning and presenting programs primarily at the annual conventions. The programs have been meaningful and resulted in improving the health habits of our members as well as people in our communities.
The partnership with FDA began in 1984 when the Auxiliary created an ANMA/FDA Advisory Committee to develop and oversee a national health program. Consultative services for the national program have been provided by the Consumer Affairs Office of the FDA. Specifically, the Advisory Committee has helped to develop and implement national programs on cancer, cardiovascular disease, diet, and nutrition. These programs have captured the interests of auxilians across the country. All chapters are eligible to participate. Project SUN was established in 1982 and continues today. Originally, the program was held on one day during the annual convention and was funded through the National Foundation, March of Dimes. The program included youths of the medical community families located in the convention city.
Project SUN is a prevention based and goal directed healthy lifestyle choices program. This program was developed as a means for the Auxiliary to reach out to the community and provide activities that will encourage healthy choices and goal-setting for our pre-adolescents.
Project SUN has been conducted in partnership with the local ANMA Chapter and local healthcare providers.
The objectives of Project SUN are 1) provide preventive health and health related information to the school family; 2) provide activities that enhance academic and career goal-setting as a means of preventing pregnancy, drug use, and violence; 3) provide activities that enhance interest in sciences; 4) provide activities that will improve the quality of health for children and adults, and 5) enhance awareness in the ANMA and NMA membership in other African-American healthcare providers.
A grant from the Office of Population was received through our Cooperation Agreement in 2000.
The National African-American Youth Initiative Scholars Program (NAAYI) was initiated in 1992 and has continued every summer, except for the summer of 1993. It is one of a small group of intervention programs in the United States designed specifically to increase the pool of African-Americans in health-related careers.
NAAYI is an eleven day residential summer program for approximately 60 high school students drawn from urban cities in the United States where active auxiliaries of the National Medical Association and the U.S. Virgin Islands exist.
Two major purposes of the program are 1) to expose African-American high school students to a) scientific research, and b) the public policy and decision-making processes relative to health and education, and 2) to encourage and empower African American high school students to remain in the academic pipeline and to pursue careers in the health professions. Former NAAYI scholars who are currently in high school serve as peer counselors and students pursuing degrees and training in the health professions serve as mentors and counselors. NMA physicians serve as mentors to the students and are very much committed to NAAYI.
Funding for NAAYI has been received from various sources and will be greatly enhanced with the Cooperative Agreement now in place. After several years of seeking funding for our national projects, A Cooperative Agreement (5 year Program) was approved in 1999.
To date, the NAAYI program has served approximately 700 students. Through the planning and implementation phases of the program, ANMA collaborated with a variety of agencies and organizations, including Howard University College of Medicine, Health Resources and Services Administration, National Institutes of Health , Office of Minority Health, the University of the District of Columbia, and many others.
NAAYI was institutionalized in 1998 by the ANMA House of Delegates.
For 56 years (1948-2004), the Auxiliary to the National Medical Association, Inc. has awarded the Alma Wells Givens Scholarship to 143 sophomore students enrolled in the following medical schools: 1) Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC, (52): 2) Meharry Medical College School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, (48); 3) Charles R. Drew/UCLA Medical College, Los Angeles, California, (27) and; 4) Morehouse School of Medicine Atlanta, Georgia, (16).
Since the beginning of our existence, the members of the Auxiliary have been guided by specific purposes and objectives that have led them to establish and maintain health-related programs and educational projects specifically aimed at addressing health issues affecting African Americans and other minorities. Our programmatic thrust has been to disseminate information on healthy ways of living to the African American community.
From this day forward, ANMA will continue to address Healthcare Disparities in the 21st Century and beyond, by joining forces with other organizations to help the African American community to make more informed choices that will contribute to their enjoying a healthier, more productive and longer life.