This text was transcribed from a typed document assumed to be written by Alice Budny. -Doniel Noble, CMA (AAMA)
The History of Wisconsin Society of Medical Assistants
By Alice Budny, 1955-1956 WSMA President
As a Charter Member, it is a privilege for me to review the history of our Association with you. But before I begin, I would like to state that we can be particularly proud, first that there has never been a threat of disbandment of our society, and secondly, even more importantly, both the image and status of the Medical Assistant has been enhanced tremendously throughout the years because of our educational accomplishments, excellent leadership, and proof to the physicians and patients that we are capable of meeting their clinical and administrative needs.
Now for some background information regarding our Association.
The origin of the first local chapter in Wisconsin is something like a fairytale; In fact, I am tempted to begin with the words, “Once Upon a Time,” but instead I will pinpoint the date to February 1945 when 24 women, all employees in physicians’ offices, assembled in the auditorium of the Marquette Medical School to form this local chapter, known now as the Milwaukee County Medical Assistants. The idea was conceived by an ambitious medical assistant who was employed at the Industrial Clinic.
It was a struggle at first to get the approval of the Milwaukee County Medical Society because they feared the formation of a union, but once approved, the Executive Director became one of our strongest advocates.
The first officers were strictly volunteers and every individual at the initial meeting was asked to serve on a committee. A small group of us worked many hours composing the original Constitution and Bylaws. We had no pattern to follow. The admirable thing is that we became self-sustaining immediately by establishing our dues at $3 with a $2 initiation fee.
Membership grew steadily and by 1958, we had reached an all time high of 211 members. In 1959, the Milwaukee Chapter was declared the second largest chapter in the United States.
Personal Comments added later by Alice:
1. I remember that we served coffee and cake after every meal, but it brought with it an obligation to sweep the floor and wash the dishes before we adjourned.
2. Our first social affair, held at Pfister Hotel, cost 75 cents to each member. Extravagance on our part resulted in a deficit. Every member was assessed an additional 50 cents.
3. The first president, who volunteered, rather than being elected, served 3 (three) months, was married, and then resigned.
Milwaukee County was the only chapter in the state of Wisconsin for seven years; Dane County, Madison finally became the second chapter in 1952. Waukesha and Rock County followed, and thereafter, local chapters evolved quickly throughout the State.
By assisting Dane County, I became acquainted with Lois Pluckhan of the Jackson Clinic with whom I corresponded for two years about the feasibility of forming a State Organization. Finally, in 1954 we arranged a meeting with Earl Thayer, the Executive Director of the State Medical Society. We met at my home to further discuss the possibility of a state group of medical assistants.
Having succeeded in formulating plans for an Organizational Meeting and having received endorsement and support, in the form of a Resolution, from the House of Delegates of the State Medical Society, we then faced practical reality of the victory we had won, and began making plans for implementing the State Chapter.
Believe me, nothing great is accomplished without enthusiasm, perseverance, and confidence.
The Charter Meeting of the Wisconsin State Medical Assistants Society was held on June 5-6, 1955 at the Schroeder Hotel in Milwaukee. Approximately 250 medical assistants from throughout the state attended the convention.
Having secured funds from a number of organizations, including Wisconsin Physician Service, Surgical Care, various Pharmaceutical companies, as well as private contributors, all expenses were covered.
The Charter Meeting was called to order at 10:30 am on June 5, 1955 with
1. Welcome Address
2. Approval of the Constitution and Bylaws
3. Reports from County Chapters
4. Introduction of Physicians and Advisors present
5. Report of the Nominating Committee
6. Election of Officers
The first officers elected were:
President: Alice Budny, Milwaukee
Vice President: Lois Pluckhan, Madison
Recording Secretary: Audrey Holtshopple, Janesville
Treasurer: Mary Schmidt, Fond du Lac
Corresponding Secretary: Thelma Lein, Kenosha
We were privileged to have Elizabeth Peck, a prominent member from Michigan, install the officers.
All members should be informed of the benefits offered through membership in WSMA, namely:
1. Seminars with excellent speakers
2. Leadership Development
4. Annual State Convention
5. Service as Delegate to the State and National Convention
6. Insurance Program
8. WSMA Update
My personal feeling is that the Wisconsin Society should be recognized, and certainly acknowledged justifiably, as one of the most aggressive and progressive Constituent Chapters of AAMA. Today, I hope to instill in each of you a desire to accept the challenge of leadership. Never underestimate your ability and potential to be an effective leader and participant in our Association.
Now, please visualize a triangle. One arm is that of AMMA, the other arm is that of WSMA, and the base of the triangle, supporting the entire framework is representative of the local chapters. I like to think that the relationship of these three is one of interdependence, with State Society as the intermediary between National and County groups.
Bear in mind this fact: WSMA was organized in June 1955. Much to our surprise, in November 1955, the Kansas Medical Assistant Society initiated a meeting of great significance to consider formation of a National Association. Lois and I took an all-night train to Kansas City, arriving at 7:15 am and managed to be at the meeting when it was called to order at 9:00 am. 78 representatives from 16 states were present.
Several decisions were made which are historically significant:
1. The name of the American Association of Medical Assistant was accepted by a vote
2. A scroll was prepared for the signatures of the 78 founding members (we were each asked to contribute $5.00. The reimbursement of which, incidentally, Lois and I are still waiting for from the state, with all accrued interest) [both ladies were later reimbursed at the next National Convention]
3. Pro-tem officers were elected
4. Inexperienced as we still were, Lois and I invited the newly formed Association to meet in Milwaukee for the Charter Meeting, which I chaired.
The Charter Meeting was held at the Pfister Hotel Milwaukee, October 26-28, 1956. 250 attended, representing 15 State Medical Assistant Societies together with physician advisors and representatives from the American Medical Association.
The registration fee was $12.00, which yielded a profit of $841.59, which was submitted to AAMA. The Constitution and Bylaws were written and the first officers elected. Dues were established at $1.00.
The first officers elected were:
President: Maxine Williams, Kansas
Vice President: Marian Little, Iowa
President Elect: Mary Kinn, California
Recording Secretary: Alice Budny, Wisconsin
Treasurer: Carmen Kline, Kansas
We became the only organization of Medical Assistants who merited official commendation from the AMA.
The seemingly endless preparation for the 25th Annual Meeting of AAMA, which the Wisconsin State Society hosted, culminated in an extremely gratifying and successful convention. Nearly 800 registrants and guests converged upon Milwaukee during the week of September 21-25, 1981 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel to participate in this Silver Anniversary Meeting. 24 committees helped to coordinate the essential challenges and task involved.
43 States are now affiliated with AAMA; membership is now approximately 20,000, with 75% CMAs (AAMA).
Three highlights that come to mind are:
1. In 1959, the National Headquarters was opened in Chicago, IL
2. In 1960, Tri-level membership in AAMA was voted mandatory
3. In 1963, the first Certification Examination was given in California, Kansas, and Florida
If any one of you has a desire to become president of AAMA someday, I can honestly say from experience, that the task will be both satisfying and rewarding.
I would like to conclude by saying that it is imperative for us to actively pursue and merit the recognition given to us as paramedical personnel. Remember, the creation of this Association was meant to give dignity to our work and provide encouragement to potential Medical Assistants.