The association was founded in 1856 by a small group of physicians who knew it was their duty to fight for their patients and for their profession. Confronted with the challenges of rampant quackery, epidemics of contagious disease, and a desperate need to establish standards for the profession, physician leaders of the time called upon their colleagues to help them form the Medical Society of the State of California (as it was called back then) “to develop, in the highest possible degree, the scientific truths embodied in the profession.”
On March 12, 1856, the medical society held its first meeting at Pioneer Hall on "J" Street in what is now Old Town Sacramento. The society’s first president, Benjamin Franklin Keene, M.D., led the meeting of 75. The dynamic physicians who founded the Medical Society of the State of California dedicated their organization to “promote the science and art of medicine, protection of public health, and the betterment of the medical profession.” Although the practice of medicine today bears little resemblance to 1856, ironically, so many of yesterday’s challenges are still with us.
Today, the California Medical Association (CMA) serves more than 43,000 members in all modes of practice and specialties representing the patients of California. CMA is dedicated to serving our member physicians through a comprehensive program of legislative, legal, regulatory, economic and social advocacy. We know that in today’s economic climate, physicians are being assailed from many directions. Our goal is to provide our members with the support necessary to allow them to focus on providing quality patient care.