Massachusetts Medical Society: The Role of the HOD and Delegate Responsibilities

The Role of the HOD and Delegate Responsibilities


The HOD is the policy-making body of the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) and has the authority to establish two general types of policy: health policies and directives. Health policies are statements of philosophy based on professional principles and scientific standards. These policies define what the Society stands for as an organization. Directives are action items that articulate a strategy for accomplishing an objective and/or activate the Society’s health policies. Health policies are based on a statement of philosophy or health policy. While a health policy sets forth the Society’s position, a directive instructs the Society to take some action. The HOD also sets the long-range goals of the Society. Policies of the MMS may be found in the MMS Policy Compendium.

The Speaker presides over meetings of the HOD and, along with the Vice Speaker, is responsible for appointing Reference Committees and assigning resolutions and reports to them. Questions or comments for the Speaker of the HOD may be directed to


The HOD is composed of delegates elected by the district medical societies and in addition:

  • One delegate from each designated medical specialty society
  • Two delegates from the student membership of each medical school in the Commonwealth
  • Eight delegates from the Resident and Fellow Section
  • One delegate from the Organized Medical Staff Section, the Academic Physician Section, and one delegate the International Medical Graduate Section, the Minority Affairs Section, and Women Physician Section
  • The President, President-elect, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, Speaker and Vice Speaker
  • The president and secretaries from each of the district medical societies
  • The trustee and alternate trustee from each of the district medical societies, for the duration of their term as such, and the Medical Student Section trustee and alternate
  • Chairs of all standing committees of the Society, during their tenure
  • Past Presidents of the Society
  • Delegates-at-large, as recommended by the Board of Trustees (BOT)
  • The President of the MMS Alliance
  • The President of the Boston Medical Library

Reference Committees

Reference Committees are groups of five delegates (and two alternates) selected by the Speaker to review testimony on the resolutions/reports before the House for action. Any member of the Society may testify on a resolution or report under consideration.

Responsibilities of the HOD

The powers and duties of the HOD include some of the following responsibilities:

  • Consideration and action on Reference Committee reports
  • Approval of standing committee chair and member appointments for standing and special committees
  • Establishment of special committees
  • Election of Officers and AMA representatives
  • Approval to establish or discontinue medical specialty society representation on the HOD
  • Authority to override BOT action on prioritization of funding a House directive with a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the delegates
  • Elect Honorary and Affiliate members of the Society
  • Act upon matters of indemnification

Delegate Roles and Responsibilities

Members of the MMS HOD serve as an important communications, policy, and membership link between the MMS and grassroots physicians. The delegate is a key source of information on activities, programs, and policies of the MMS.

  • MMS member
  • District delegates must have been members of the MMS for one year and meet the attendance requirement as outlined on page two
  • Elected or selected by the principal governing body
  • Completion of a “Confirmation of Compliance with the MMS Conflicts of Interest Policy” form. Every delegate is required to update and resubmit this Form at the beginning of each MMS Presidential Year

Participation in the MMS Governance Process

The Society is governed by a democratic process that starts with the HOD. The Procedures of the HOD outlines the methods for handling and conducting the business before the House.

1. Resolutions and Reports
Any member of the Society—whether or not a delegate—can ask the House to consider an item of business. Those items, called resolutions, are drafted and submitted prior to each House meeting. The House also considers reports from committees, Member Interest Networks, membership sections, or MMS leadership groups; often, reports cover previous House business, information about current activities, or an item the House has assigned to a group for review and analysis.

2. Pre-Meeting Posting of House Business
All resolutions and reports for an upcoming meeting, plus any other business before the House, are included in the Delegates’ Handbook before each meeting.

3. House First Session
At its first session, the House determines whether to accept any late items of business and confirms the timely submitted resolutions and reports for action it will accept on its agenda. The HOD also reviews additional procedural matters, and presentations by the MMS president, etc.

4. Reference Committee Process
The Speaker appoints members of the Society to serve on Reference Committees. Reference Committees, with five members and two alternates, review testimony on the resolutions/reports assigned to the committee.

After all testimony is presented, Reference Committees deliberate in executive session and determine whether to recommend that the House accept, reject, amend, etc. the resolutions/reports for action. The committee draws up a report with recommendations to the House for disposition of the items.

5. House Second Session
During its second session, the House considers each Reference Committee’s report and votes whether to accept or reject the committee’s recommendation on each resolution. Once all committee reports are heard and voted upon, the House adjourns. A report of the House’s decisions is sent to the MMS Board of Trustees (BOT).

6. BOT implements the will of the HOD
The BOT prioritizes and assigns resolutions or reports from the House to committees for implementation or report back.

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