Generating articles of incorporation, convening boards of directors, establishing nonprofit status: It’s no small feat to form a state rheumatology society, but with the right expertise, the results can be successful, according to the president of the Rheumatology Association of Minnesota and the Dakotas, Jody Hargrove, MD, who is in private practice with Arthritis & Rheumatology Consultants P.A. in Edina, Minn.
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From Conception to Fruition
Dr. Hargrove says the idea to form a state society in Minnesota has been percolating since approximately 2005, when she first investigated the process and initiated a meeting with an attorney. Unaware of groups with expertise in society organization, unclear of how to finance it, and busy with her practice, she recalls that, at the time, the process seemed daunting and did not move forward.
The idea to form a state society resurfaced in 2015 when Eric Matteson, MD, MPH, chair of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., organized a meeting of rheumatologists representing the major groups around the state. Also attending the meeting was an ACR representative, who provided insights regarding professional management companies with expertise in forming nonprofit medical societies.
There was one major discussion point before agreeing to move forward, says Dr. Hargrove: members of the formation committee were aware that some colleagues might object to taking educational grants from pharmaceutical companies. However, when the group discussed the matter, “it became really clear that we were never going to be able to form and have our first educational meeting unless we did that, because the costs involved were significantly more than reasonable membership dues would cover.” With this decision by the organizing committee, Dr. Hargrove, along with colleague Cynthia Weaver, MD, of Duluth, Minn., conducted a search of management associations. Using a management services company to steer the group through the association formation process, says Dr. Hargrove, has “been simple and seamless.” In short order the society formed, and held its first annual meeting in October 2016 with about 80 attendees. The second meeting was held in October 2017.
Strength in Numbers
The original intent was to form a Minnesota society and then invite participation by rheumatologists from the Dakotas. “The Dakotas just don’t have the numbers of rheumatologists to make forming a society reasonable,” notes Dr. Hargrove. “Even if they banded with Montana and Wyoming, they still wouldn’t have very many—and it would be as far or farther for them to travel as coming to Minnesota.”