The Benefits of UHMS Membership
The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) is the oldest and most prominent scientific organization dedicated to the field of undersea and hyperbaric medicine (UHM). We represent physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and basic science researchers in the advancement of scientific and clinical knowledge in the specialty. Founded in 1967, we are celebrating our 50th anniversary next year.
The mission of the UHMS has evolved over time. While we were once a purely scientific society focused on research and academic pursuits, we have broadened our scope to address the more pressing concerns of our membership: the mechanics and politics of the practice of UHM. We are shouldering the burden of defending practice patterns to agencies that seek to reduce the reimbursement of our services, while also educating a new workforce that has had less formal training in the field. With the support of UHMS staff, a tireless cadre of volunteer clinicians has tackled the intricacies of these new responsibilities while balancing these extracurricular duties with their day jobs. We have found, however, that with each new mission-driven initiative comes a concomitant need for increased infrastructure and administrative time.
With multiple demands on medical professionals’ attention and finances, one must ask what the benefit is of joining yet another professional medical society. The underlying question — “What’s in it for me?” — can often be a difficult exercise when calculating the return on investment of another annual membership fee. In considering the field of UHM, not every physician is as invested in the field as another. Many practitioners are new to the field and have only a limited familiarity with regulatory, safety and reimbursement concerns. Others practice UHM only part- time and rely on the effort of more vested members of the field to lay the groundwork and do the heavy lifting with regard to protecting their interests.
A recent survey of nearly 2,000 physicians who billed for supervision of hyperbaric oxygen therapy revealed that only 16% were members of the UHMS. It also revealed that nearly 60% of UHMS members were older than 55 years of age. Even more surprising is that only 30% of practitioners who had been in the field for five years or less were UHMS members. This poses the question: “Why have our newer colleagues not joined the society?” The answers can only be that they are either unaware of our existence, unaware of the benefits of being a member, or feel that the efforts of the society are not worthy of their support.
One might argue the value of the UHMS is the greatest for those who are newest to the field because of the tangible benefits to its members. We provide the following tools for the practitioner to gain additional knowledge and expertise:
- access to the MEDFAQs program, a compendium of more than 50 of the most commonly asked clinical-, safety- and reimbursement-related questions, answered by leading experts in the field
- discounted registration for live courses throughout the year, taught by leading educators and experts in diving medicine, clinical hyperbaric medicine and wound care
- discounted rates on more than 50 hours of online hyperbaric-related educational content to meet continuing medical education (CME) and maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements
The UHMS has many publications that are essential components of any hyperbaric practitioner’s library:
- the 13th edition of the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Indications Manual, which details all the literature related to the UHMS-approved indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- the 2nd edition of the Guidelines for Hyperbaric Facility Operations
- the bimonthly scientific journal Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, which now offer members free PDF downloads of all of its articles
- the Society’s newsletter, Pressure, which updates members on developments in the field
There are many intangible benefits of being a member of the UHMS, however, that are just as important — including, but not limited to, educational initiatives focused on preserving our payment system for hyperbaric medicine, raising funds for research and public policy initiatives, networking, and establishing best practices in safety and operational procedures.
The UHMS is constantly working behind the scenes to advance and protect the field of UHM. Our accreditation program is designed to ensure the highest standards of practice on a facility level, and our new Certification of Added Qualification program is intended to fill a gap between the 40-hour introduction to hyperbaric medicine course and the gold standard of American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) certification in UHM. We are developing clinical practice guidelines to define best practices in UHM, and we have created reportable quality measures to allow clinicians to submit their outcomes to CMS.
I encourage you to consider supporting the organization that is working on your behalf by joining or renewing your membership. It is only through the financial support of our members and the hard work of our leaders that the UHMS is able to accomplish these tasks.
The UHMS has several regional chapters in the United States, and these are a great forum to introduce yourself to colleagues and peers in your region. You can choose to become involved in one of the 19 committees that the UHMS relies on to carry out its mission, submit an abstract to be presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting every June, or even seek election to the UHMS board of directors. Whatever your interests are, we welcome your engagement in the betterment of our Society and the field of undersea and hyperbaric medicine. Find out more at www.uhms.org.