NMA Heads for Opryland For the National Medical Association, timing was everything. NMA had been shopping for a new site for its 2001 annual convention after it pulled out of Seattle to protest Washington State's approval of an anti-affirmative-action initiative.

The Opryland Convention Center Hotel in Nashville was soliciting NMA for its 2003 annual convention when the Seattle boycott unfolded and Opryland made an offer that the association just couldn't refuse, according to NMA past president Gary C. Dennis, MD.

"Opryland in Nashville was selected," Dennis says, "because they gave us an offer to cover our debt to pull out of Seattle. We've always received very strong support from Tennessee."

Warren Breaux, Opryland's vice president of marketing, was careful to explain that "we never solicit anyone in this kind of situation," referring to NMA's predicament of having no site for its 2001 annual meeting. "It has to be perfectly clear that we don't go after this kind of business."

Breaux said that Opryland was in negotiations with the NMA for its August 2003 annual convention when NMA made its move out of Washington State. Opryland's bid to host the 2001 and 2003 NMA conventions includes covering part of NMA's debt for pulling out of Seattle, according to Breaux, but he declined to disclose any details of that aspect of the deal.

About NMA's boycott, Dennis says, "We knew it was going to be controversial, and we took it on the chin, but it's what we have to do to make a statement."

Meanwhile, the American Medical Association, at its annual meeting in June, adopted NMA's Resolution 316, which takes a stand on medical education for members in under-served minority groups.

"This puts the AMA in the middle of the fray, saying that it's right to support opportunities for under-represented minorities," Dennis says. "This puts them on record to support, among other things, biomedical research on a population in which there are disparities in health care." The resolution also commits the AMA to oppose the reduction of resources to increase minority medical and pre-medical students.

Most important, Dennis says, Resolution 316 paves the way for the AMA House to agree to hold a national conference with a focus on health care for minorities. page 28