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The American Medical Association Just Elected Its First African American Woman President

The American Medical Association Just Elected Its First African American Woman President


Photo credit: AMA

Since the American Medical Association (AMA) was founded in 1847, it has never been led by a Black woman, until now. On Tuesday night, the AMA House of Delegates elected Atlanta psychiatrist Patrice A. Harris as its next president, which will make her the African American woman to fulfill the role.    

“It will be my honor to represent the nation’s physicians at the forefront of discussions when policymaker and lawmakers search for practical solutions to the challenges in our nation’s health system. I am committed to preserving the central role of the physician-patient relationship in our healing art," said Harris.

She added: "The American Medical Association has well-crafted policy concerning the changing health care environment in this country and I look forward to using my voice to help improve health care for patients and their physicians." 

This isn't the first time that Harris has made history. In 2016, she became the first African American woman to lead AMA's Board of Trustees. As a West Virginia University School of Medicine graduate, Harris has served on the board of the Medical Association of Georgia’s Council on Legislation, its Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, and its Membership Task Force. She was also the president of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, as well as the founding president of the Georgia Psychiatry Political Action Committee. 

Harris' previous roles also include chief health officer for Fulton County, Georgia and medical director for the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. She currently serves as an adjunct assistant professor in the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and "continues in private practice and consults with both public and private organizations on health service delivery and emerging trends in practice and health policy," according to an AMA news release. 

After a year-long term as as AMA president-elect, Harris will assume the office of president in June 2019. Congratulations, Dr. Harris!