Updates from the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA): Professional Medical Societies—How Important Is that Membership?

by the SDPA Board of Directors

Are you a committed healthcare practitioner who loves serving the public? Of course you are! You wouldn’t have spent a large part of your life pursuing an advanced provider degree if you were not. That being said, it is important to remember that dedication to your career extends far beyond your personal education and daily practice. While it might be easy to settle into your own routine and forget about the bigger picture, it is important to ask yourself “How can I truly make a difference and actively work to improve the landscape of my profession?” 

Graduating with a professional degree is an incredible accomplishment and is often rewarded with personal satisfaction, professional respect, and a lucrative career. Despite this, however, the financial burdens we all encounter in daily life can often weigh us down and cause us to have a narrow view on how and where to spend our hard earned dollars. It may be tempting to view professional organizations and their associated fees as expenses that could be diverted in a more relevant direction. The “I already have a job, so what could they offer me anyway?” philosophy is a classic example of this type of thought process. This is a very simple mistake to make and an incredibly important one to avoid. Becoming a member of your respective professional organization, such as the SDPA, is more vital to your career than you may realize. 

Society membership offers many important benefits, such as providing a platform to connect and exchange knowledge with professional peers whom you might not have otherwise met. Conferences organized by professional societies provide top-notch educational opportunities, as well as the ability to network with medical faculty and to connect with numerous potential employment prospects. Professional societies even offer free and low-cost, on-demand educational programs that can help you meet your annual license requirements. Professional societies offer a unique avenue to becoming more closely involved with your profession through a variety of leadership and political positions. Becoming a member of a professional society can provide you with the tools you need to steer and customize your career trajectory. Have a tough clinical question? Ask a practice colleague. Have a tough professional question (e.g., about leaving your practice)? Ask a fellow society member. Each and every member makes the organization more robust, more respected, and stronger so that it can accomplish great things for its members, their patients, and the community as a whole. Your medical society truly is a critical component of your career. 

Professional medical societies depend heavily on volunteers who devote their time to improving the profession. If you occasionally struggle to see the benefit of simply being a member of your respective society, we challenge you to step up and volunteer at your organization to become an active force in creating a benefit that you would like to see. You and your peers are the members who become the leaders of these professional societies, and these leaders welcome new ideas, experience, and active participation. Volunteering for a professional society can be incredibly rewarding, and this satisfaction far outweighs the value of the time put into the work.  

Medical societies not only provide top-notch educational events that directly benefit their members, they have a strong political component. Members form specialty task forces that represent the professio, and these groups work hard to pass legislation, expand scope of practice, and reduce restrictive regulations. Collectively, these groups fight to block legislation that threatens to take away rights or impede the ability to provide comprehensive patient care. Additionally, the funds collected through membership dues and other associated fees are directly re-invested back into the society for the benefit of its members. Comprehensively, your profession’s reputation within your community and nationally is largely influenced by the work you and your colleagues do within a professional society.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), “Medical societies exist to preserve the highest standards of the profession through research, education and advocacy.”1 This is evidenced by many medical societies today, including the SDPA—an organization that is driven by the mission to “Empower, Educate, and Advance”2 the dermatology PA profession. Medical societies were here before you became a healthcare provider; they have afforded you the ability to practice in the way that you do today; and through the dedication and hard work of their members, they will continue to be beneficial for many generations to come. So, the next time you are hesitant to spend money on the yearly membership fee to your respective professional society, consider the difference you can make in the lives of your patients by working to improve the landscape of your profession. When you consider this, the membership fee may suddenly seem like a very small amount of money to pay in exchange for the priceless legacy of your contributions to the medical field.


  1. Berg S. Medical society membership: a deterrent to physician burnout. 17 Sep 2019. American Medical Society site. https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/medical-society-membership-deterrent-physician-burnout#:~:text=Medical%20societies%20exist%20to%20preserve,role%20in%20the%20broader%20community. Accessed 14 Dec 2020.
  2. Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants site. Who we are. https://www.dermpa.org/page/Who_We_Are. Accessed 14 Dec 2020.

Contributed by

Renata Block, MMS, PA-C, President Elect, SDPA, was born and raised in Chicago, IL and has been specializing in dermatology since 2003. She became active in her state affiliate in 2009 and served as President of the Illinois Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (ISDPA) from 2010 – 2013. From 2013-2017 Renata served as the SDPA Constituent Relations Chair to assist other states to form affiliates with the SDPA. She currently serves as a Director At Large on the SDPA Board. Renata has a Masters in Medical Science in Physician Assistant studies from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL. Before beginning her education as a Physician Assistant, she received an undergraduate degree with honors in Biology/Pre-Med with dual minors in Chemistry and Psychology from Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL. She believes being active in leadership is important to educate the public on the importance of dermatology PAs and the role they play in healthcare.

Hannah Rodriguez, MPAS, PA-C, Director at Large, SDPA, is a certified Physician Assistant who graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. She continued her graduate education at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX where she earned her Masters in Physician Assistant Studies and served as the Vice President of her PA class. Upon graduating, she and her husband moved to Philadelphia where she specializes in medical dermatology at Pennsylvania Dermatology Partners. Passionate about the PA profession, she serves on the Board of Directors for the SDPA, and as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Pennsylvania Dermatology Physician Assistants.

Amber Blair MMS PA-C, Director at Large, SDPA, graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Central Florida’s Cardiopulmonary Science Program then went on to Nova Southeastern University, where she graduated Cum Laude from the Masters in Medical Science of Physician Assistant studies program. Amber now practices in Winter Park, Florida alongside a fellowship trained MOHS surgeon.  She has a passion for skin cancer surgery and advanced cosmetic injectable procedures and also enjoys treating psoriasis and acne patients.  In addition to her clinical practice, Amber serves on the board of directors for the Florida Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (FSDPA) as Director at Large as well as on the board of directors at the national level, as Director at Large for the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA). Amber holds a faculty position for the Maui Derm NP+PA conferences with focus on cosmetic and surgical dermatology.   Her love for educating and writing has led her to publish several articles in nationally distributed journals, and to work with Nova Southeastern University’s MMS Physician Assistant program as a preceptor and adjunctive faculty guest lecturer.