The Indianapolis Medical Society (IMS) was founded in 1848 as the city’s first local medical organization. With an initial membership of 21 physicians, Dr. John H. Sanders served as the first president. A year later, the Indiana State Medical Society was established to serve physician groups at the state level.

Members of the Indianapolis Medical Society, ca. 2020 Credit: Indianapolis Medical Society View Source

In 1875, the Indiana State Medical Society recommended the merger of the Indianapolis Medical Society and a rival organization, the Academy of Medicine. Together, they became known as the Marion County Medical Society (MCMS). This name was changed to the Indianapolis Medical Society: The Medical Society of Marion County in 1902. The next year, the Indiana State Medical Society changed its name to the Indiana State Medical Association (ISMA) following American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines.

The AMA, ISMA, and ISM did not allow African Americans to join. In 1903, a group of Indianapolis African American physicians, dentists, and pharmacists established the Aesculapian Medical Society to represent them.

In 1924, IMS legally incorporated as the Marion County Medical Society, and it counted 400 members. The wives of members established an auxiliary, the Indianapolis Medical Alliance, in 1926. IMS membership doubled during the 1930s and 1940s, increasing to 860 physicians in 1949. The AMA finally lifted all racial barriers to membership in its organization and affiliates in 1968. Although the Indianapolis Medical Society became open to African American members, the Aescalapian Medical Society also has continued to operate as a separate organization. By 1974, IMS had a full-time staff of four employees.

In 1990, the society again changed its name, returning to the original Indianapolis Medical Society. IMS is responsible for the implementation of AMA programs for Marion County, while ISMA is responsible for the coordination of its programs at the state level. Such programs focus on professional development, health education, community outreach, legislative advocacy, and charitable giving. IMS has over 1,000 members.

Revised June 2023

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