The Medical Administrators Conference (MAC) was established as an informal organization with no name in 1939. The original nine members first met at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, December 8-9, 1939. MAC was the brainchild of Anthony J.J. Rourke, MD, who conceived of the idea and was largely responsible for the invitation to the other eight original members.
MAC was patterned after an existing organization, the Medical Superintendents Club, which had been in existence since 1920. The membership of the elder organization was originally limited to physicians who were superintendents of hospitals. Over the years, it grew to be the most prestigious organization of physician administrators in the US. By 1939, many members of the Medical Superintendents Club had attracted young physicians as assistant administrators. They served as the reservoir from which the nine - relatively young - individuals were selected for MAC. All were physicians, all were assistant directors of major hospitals and most, if not all of their bosses were members of the Medical Superintendents Club.
Since 1939, MAC has matured to become the most distinguished organization of physicians engaged in administrative responsibilities with a range of health care organizations. Up until the 1970s, most of its members were hospital administrators. Since that time, members have been drawn from the ranks of academic medicine and public health, managed care organizations, local, state and federal governments, consulting firms, for-profit health care service and product companies, and Fortune 500 companies. True to its roots, however, members must be physicians in administrative positions and not primarily involved in direct patient care at the time of their election into MAC. According to the Constitution and By-Laws, the number of active members may not exceed 50.
The MAC meeting is held annually, typically in June of each year. The site of the meeting alternates; however, every fourth year, right after each presidential election, we meet in Washington, D.C., to try to guess what the new administration plans to do in the area of health. Presenters for each meeting are experts drawn from a broad range of national and at times international health care positions, both physicians and non-physicians, and the speakers are asked to address cutting-edge topics related to health insurance, quality of care, government and private support for health care services, the changing structure of health care delivery systems, and many other subjects. The highlight of each meeting is the "Show and Tell" session, during which members in attendance share their recent experiences and perspectives on the evolving US health care system. All active and honorary members - former members who for reasons of health, seniority, retirement or limitation of activity - who are no longer at the cutting edge of medical administration - are invited to attend the annual meeting.
The value of MAC is best summarized by a former officer of the organization: "We are an eclectic mix that has been transformed significantly over my 17-year tenure. There is always an immediate gratification that results from the renewal of human ties in this motivated network. But the greatest secondary gain certainly grows from the ideas that are triggered and/or reinforced during the meetings."
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