June 12, 2018 is an auspicious day in the 171-year history of the American Medical Association (AMA). The body, on that day, elected its first African-American female president, Dr Patrice A. Harris.
Harris is a psychiatrist from Atlanta and this is not her first date with history. She had, in 2016, being the first African-American woman to lead the AMA Board of Trustees.
The experienced Harris has served in different capacities in the AMA and other medical associations. 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 was also chief health officer for Fulton County, Georgia and medical director for the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. She is currently 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..
“It will be my honour 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.
“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,” she added.
Harris is one of many women, blacks especially, who are kicking down stereotypes and making headway in their chosen fields. Congratulations to her and we hope she continues to be a shining light unto others.