How to write and submit a resolution to influence ISMA or AMA policy
173rd Annual ISMA Convention
Sept. 9-11, 2022
Embassy Suites - Noblesville, IN


The ISMA is guided by input from members like YOU. Any member of ISMA may provide that input in the form of a written resolution. The purpose of a resolution can be to make changes to the ISMA Bylaws, to direct ISMA to take a certain policy position or to take a certain action on an issue. Typical resolutions encourage ISMA to take a position supporting or opposing a specific health policy issue or piece of legislation. Resolutions may also call on ISMA to actively seek (introduce) legislation on an issue.

To be considered at the 2022 ISMA convention, resolutions must be submitted by Sunday, June 12. 

2022 RESOLUTION SUBMISSION FORM >>

What is a resolution?
Resolutions are considered by the ISMA House of Delegates (HOD) at the ISMA Annual Convention, which occurs every fall. The HOD comprises county medical society representatives, the ISMA Board of Trustees (BOT), and ISMA past presidents. Resolutions that are adopted by the HOD are implemented by ISMA leadership and staff, and new policy positions are added to the ISMA Public Policy Manual. ISMA leadership and staff are guided by the policy positions adopted by the HOD in their work with community stakeholders, other health care organizations, government agencies and legislators.

How to submit a resolution
The ISMA Bylaws require all timely resolutions to be submitted in writing to ISMA staff not later than 90 days prior to convention. Throughout every spring, staff publishes information about the deadline and process for submitting resolutions. Be sure to monitor ISMA e-Reports, society newsletters and special alerts for that information.

Writing a resolution
First, decide on an intended goal. For instance, this might be to urge ISMA to take a particular policy position or to urge ISMA to take action, such as advocating in favor of or against an issue or studying an issue further. Next, determine whether the topic is a state or national issue (or both). Resolutions about issues dealing strictly with Indiana law or policies should be directed at the ISMA, while resolutions about national issues typically should be directed at the ISMA delegation to the AMA. Finally, conduct research to confirm the goal has not already been accomplished. For example, if the goal is for ISMA to take a position on a particular issue, confirm that ISMA does not already have that policy. The ISMA Public Policy Manual is available at www.ismanet.org/publicpolicy, and the AMA Policy Finder is available at www.ama-assn.org/form/policy-finder. You may also contact ISMA staff for information.

Resolutions are divided into two basic sections: Whereas statements and Resolved clauses. An example of the typical format for each is included at bottom of this page.

Whereas statements: These provide background information on the issue and explain why the resolution is needed. A well-drafted resolution often includes information like the origin of the issue being addressed, why ISMA should address the issue, important statistics or data, relevant laws or rules, existing policy and how other states or organizations have addressed the issue. Note that Whereas statements are merely informational and are not acted upon (adopted) by the HOD or published in the public policy manual. Whereas statements are the first section of a resolution and are written to lead into the Resolved clauses in the second section of a resolution.

Resolved clauses: These are the actions that the HOD votes whether to adopt, not adopt, amend or refer to the (BOT) for study or action. If adopted, they are also what is ultimately preserved, for instance, in the public policy manual. Resolutions may have one or more Resolved clauses. Resolved clauses should be direct, succinct statements of what the resolution seeks to accomplish. They should stand alone, in the sense that their meaning and purpose should be understandable without looking at the Whereas statements or other Resolved clauses. Acronyms should be spelled out in Resolved clauses.

It is important to draft a resolution carefully, because a policy position that is adopted by the HOD will be ISMA policy for at least 10 years unless changed or rescinded by a subsequent resolution. Resolutions expire after 10 years unless readopted. More importantly, the goals of the resolution must be clearly stated, so that ISMA commissions, committees and staff can effectively carry out the intent of the resolution.

Resolved clauses begin with the phrase “RESOLVED, that,” followed by a well-defined actor, an action verb and descriptors. There are no formal requirements for drafting the rest of the Resolved clause, but it is good practice to draft it in such a way that someone who knows nothing about the issue can easily interpret and carry out its directives. A good way to test this is to have someone else read it before it is submitted.

Here are some examples:

“RESOLVED, that ISMA support/oppose (an issue/legislation)...”

“RESOLVED, that ISMA seek legislation (on/doing)...”

“RESOLVED, that ISMA study ….”

“RESOLVED, that the ISMA delegation to the American Medical Association (AMA) …”


What happens to resolutions
Here’s a brief overview of the life cycle of a resolution.

First, a submitted resolution will undergo an editorial review by ISMA staff. The purpose of the editorial review is to identify the need for any technical edits, such as grammar and punctuation, as well as ways to make the resolution clearer. Any proposed changes are subject to the author’s approval. The reason for the editorial review is to help minimize the need for non-substantive clean-ups during convention weekend and to help the membership and the HOD focus their time and efforts on the substance of the resolution.

Once the resolutions are finalized, all the resolutions are published and made available to all members of the ISMA. Similar to 2021, members will be able to provide preliminary feedback prior to this year’s convention through ISMA’s online policy making tool, called ISMA Pulse.

Any current ISMA member can attend convention. During convention, resolutions are assigned to a reference committee. The reference committees review the online feedback and hear live, in-person testimony from members on Saturday of convention weekend. After it has heard testimony on all resolutions assigned to it, the reference committee meets to decide what action it should recommend the HOD take on each resolution. Those actions are either: “Adopt,” “Not Adopt,” “Amend,” “Refer to the Board of Trustees for Action” or “Refer to the Board of Trustees for Study.” These recommendations are then published in a reference committee report, which is made available later that day.

Next, on Sunday of convention weekend, the HOD convenes to discuss each reference committee report, which is in the form of a consent calendar. Members of the HOD who disagree with a recommendation on a particular resolution can “extract” it from the consent calendar. The remainder of the reference committee report (and its recommendations) is accepted. Then, the extracted items are discussed and voted on individually.

Implementing resolutions
Adopted resolutions (in their original form or as amended) are implemented by ISMA staff and leadership, as appropriate. For instance, newly created policy positions are added to the ISMA Public Policy Manual. Bylaws amendments take effect immediately (unless the resolution states otherwise). Resolutions calling for a study will be addressed by the BOT. Resolutions that are legislative in nature are referred to the Commission on Legislation, which develops ISMA’s legislative agenda and strategy.

The HOD can also refer a resolution to the BOT, either for study or for action. The BOT will consider these resolutions at its quarterly meetings and report back to the HOD. A referral for action means the BOT has the power of the HOD to act as it finds appropriate. The BOT may, for instance, amend, adopt, defeat or refer the item. Any action adopted by the BOT may be implemented, and the board members’ decision will be reported to the HOD. If the BOT adopts a policy position, it will be added to the public policy manual.

A referral for study means the BOT will study the referred item and report its findings and recommendations to the HOD. In this instance, the BOT often forwards the resolution to an existing committee or forms its own study committee to report back to the full BOT. The full BOT ultimately approves a study report, which is shared back with the HOD. The BOT does not have independent authority to act on these referrals beyond conducting the study.

The takeaway
Resolutions guide ISMA’s actions as we carry out the organization’s mission of maximizing the leadership and impact of physicians.

Still have questions?
ISMA staff members are ready to assist members with resolution writing! If you have questions about the process or how to refine your idea and draft a clear, concise resolution, do not hesitate to contact ISMA staff at policy@ismanet.org.

ISMA resolution-writing template A template for writing an ISMA resolution can be found below.

RESOLUTION XX-XX       [INSERT TITLE HERE] [Staff will add resolution numbers]

 

Introduced by:                    [INSERT AUTHOR HERE]

 

Action:                                [Updated After Convention – Shows Action taken by HOD]

 

Whereas, [INSERT TEXT OF WHEREAS STATEMENT]; and

 

Whereas, [INSERT TEXT OF WHEREAS STATEMENT]; and

 

Whereas, [INSERT TEXT OF WHEREAS STATEMENT]; and

 

Whereas, [INSERT TEXT OF WHEREAS STATEMENT]; and

 

Whereas, [INSERT TEXT OF WHEREAS STATEMENT]; therefore, be it

 

RESOLVED, that the Indiana State Medical Association [INSERT TEXT OF RESOLVED STATEMENT].

 

[Replicate each as many times as needed. Below is an example of how to word a resolved statement calling upon the ISMA delegation to the AMA to take an action]

 

RESOLVED, that the ISMA delegation to the American Medical Association (AMA) [INSERT TEXT OF RESOLVED STATEMENT].