William Root was proud of the fact that, when he founded the society to counter the prevailing attitude toward medical students "such protests arose entirely from the students, not one member of the faculty having been consulted." Today, in order to provide continuity as students graduate, each chapter has a faculty councilor who becomes a member of the national governing council. A chapter's activities are determined by the councilor and the student members.
A chapter can be as active as its councilor and student members wish it to be. Thus, some chapters hold monthly meetings and may invite faculty members to discuss curriculum, recent developments in research and health care, and career possibilities. Some chapters also invite as guest speakers distinguished representatives of other scientific disciplines, the humanities, and the arts.
On a national level, the governing council elects a board of directors, which consists of leaders in medical education, a medical student, an intern, a resident, and three chapter councilors. The board in turn elects the society's officers-president, vice-president, and secretary treasurer. It also appoints an executive secretary, who is responsible for administering the central office with the assistance of a small staff. In 1977, the society established its central office in Menlo Park, California, which coordinates programs and communications between chapters and the national governing body. As the society has grown with the establishment of new chapters and the resultant increase in membership, the activities of the central office staff have grown apace.