Patrice A. Harris
Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, a psychiatrist based in Atlanta, was inaugurated as the 174th president of the AMA at their annual meeting. Harris is the first African American woman to serve as president of the organization.
According to the press release, Harris will remain the chair of the AMA’s Opioid Task Force during her time as president, a role she has held since the creation of the task force in 2014.
The release stated that Harris will work to remove barriers to patient care in the health care system, promote innovation in medical training and education to address health care challenges, and make efforts to address the chronic disease crisis. In addition, Harris will make efforts to stress the importance of mental health as a factor in overall health, the impact childhood trauma has on health, and increased diversity in the physician workforce.
“We face big challenges in health care today, and the decisions we make now will move us forward in a future we help create,” Harris said in a press release. “We are no longer at a place where we can tolerate the disparities that plague communities of color, women and the LGBTQ community. But we are not yet at a place where health equity is achieved in those communities.
“We are no longer at a place where underrepresented groups are not welcome in medicine; but we are not yet at a place where underrepresented groups are entering, or graduating, from medical schools at the rates of their peers,” she continued. “The saying ‘If you can see it, you can believe it’ is true. And I hope to be tangible evidence for young girls and young boys and girls from communities of color that you can aspire to be a physician. Not only that, you can aspire to be a leader in organized medicine.”
Prior to her inauguration, Harris served as the board secretary and board chair of the AMA’s Board of Trustees. She also served as the chair for the AMA’s Council on Legislation and co-chair for the organization’s Women Physicians Congress and has been active in multiple other task forces and committees. – by Erin Michael
Disclosures: Harris is president of the AMA.