WMJ Vol 119: A Cross-Sectional Study of Attitudes and Factors That Promote Medical Student Participation in Professional Medical Societies


Purpose: Medical student participation in professional medical societies is an understudied extracurricular activity. The purpose of this study is to assess student characteristics associated with participation and their attitudes toward professional medical societies.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using a 21-item survey questionnaire was administered to Wisconsin medical students in the fall of 2019. Regression analysis was used to find factors associated with participation.

Results: A total of 308 questionnaire responses were collected with a response rate of 17.4%. Sixty-three percent of respondents participated in a professional medical society, and the most important reasons for participating included professional development, networking, and advocacy. Participation was positively associated with age (OR = 1.16; 95% CI, 1.01 - 1.33); years of medical education (OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.18 - 1.69); number of memberships in professional medical societies (OR = 2.02; 95% CI, 1.61 - 2.53); number of extracurricular advocacy events attended outside of professional medical societies (OR = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.17   - 2.23); belief that participation is important for professional development (OR = 1.76; 95% CI, 1.39 - 2.23), patients (OR = 1.51; 95% CI, 1.23 - 1.86), and medical education (OR = 1.43; 95% CI, 1.19 - 1.71); and the desire to participate as a physician (OR = 1.53; 95% CI, 1.25  - 1.88). Participation was negatively associated with male gender (OR = 0.51; 95% CI, 0.27   - 0.95).

Conclusions: Medical students who participate in professional medical societies believe participation supports their education, their patients, and their professional development. Further study is required to elucidate reasons for nonparticipation.

Intended Audience

The target audience for this journal-based activity is healthcare providers caring for the people and communities of Wisconsin and beyond.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this journal-based activity, learners will be able to:

  1. Recognize the unique learning opportunities professional medical societies provide for medical education.
  2. Identify reasons medical students participate in professional medical societies.
  3. Identify factors that promote medical students' participation in professional medical societies.
  4. Describe ways in which medical societies can help promote work with other health professionals to establish and maintain a culture of respect and integrity.
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
  • 1.00 University of Wisconsin–Madison Continuing Education Hours
    • 1.00 Approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
Registration opens: 
Course expires: 


It is the policy of the University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP that the faculty, authors, planners, and other persons who may influence content of this CE activity disclose all relevant financial relationships with commercial interests* in order to allow CE staff to identify and resolve any potential conflicts of interest. Faculty must also disclose any planned discussions of unlabeled/unapproved uses of drugs or devices during the educational activity. For this educational activity all conflicts of interests have been resolved and detailed disclosures are listed below:

Name of IndividualIndividual's Role in Activity

Name of Commercial Interest &
Nature of Relationship

Discussion of
Uses of Drugs/Devices
in Presentation?

Terese Bailey, BSAccreditation SpecialistNo Relevant Financial Relationships to DiscloseNo
Daniel D. Bennett, MDAuthorAmerican Academy of Dermatology/Association (Board Officer Stipend and Board Member)No
Roberta Pawlak, PhD, RN, NEA-BCReviewerNo Relevant Financial Relationships to DiscloseNo
Mary Beth Phelan, MDReviewerNo Relevant Financial Relationships to DiscloseNo
Michelle Pickett, MDReviewerNo Relevant Financial Relationships to DiscloseNo
Michael J. RigbyAuthorAmerican Medical Association (Fiduciary officer)No
Robert Treat, PhDEditorNo Relevant Financial Relationships to DiscloseNo
Laurens D. Young, MD, DLFAPAReviewerNo Relevant Financial Relationships to DiscloseNo

* The ACCME defines a commercial interest as any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. The ACCME does not consider providers of clinical service directly to patients to be commercial interests.

Discloser List CME Internal Report


Accreditation Statement

Jointly Accredited Provider LogoIn support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by the University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP and the Wisconsin Medical Journal.  The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Credit Designation Statements

American Medical Association (AMA)

The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP designates this journal-based CE activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Continuing Education Units

The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP, as a member of the University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), authorizes this program for 0.1 continuing education units (CEUs) or 1 hour.

Available Credit

  • 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
  • 1.00 University of Wisconsin–Madison Continuing Education Hours
    • 1.00 Approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™

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