S. E. Williams
Contributor

For the first time in its 171-year history, the American Medical Association has elected an African American woman to serve as its president.

Atlanta psychiatrist and American Medical Association (AMA) President-elect, Patricia A. Harris, MD, MA, was first elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in June 2011. Since joining the AMA Board Harris has served as its secretary from 2014 to 2015 and as its chairperson from 2016 to 2017.

Harris has a long history of service as a public health administrator, patient advocate, medical society lobbyist and has experience in private practice.

In a press release announcing her election Harris stated, “It will be my honor to represent the nation’s physicians at the forefront of discussions when policymakers and lawmakers search for practical solutions to the challenges in our nation’s health system.”
“The American Medical Association,” Harris stressed, “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.”
In addition to Harris’ roles with AMA, she has served as Fulton County, Georgia’s Chief Health Officer and as Medical Director for the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. In her role as Chief Health Officer, Harris worked to integrate public health, behavioral health and primary care services.
Among her many other accomplishments, Harris was founding president of the Georgia Psychiatry Political Action Committee and in 2007, the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association named her Psychiatrist of the Year.
Harris has expressed her commitment to preserving the central role of physician-patient relationships in the art of healing. In comments, she also noted, “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.”
Harris will serve one year as the AMA’s president-elect and then in June 2019, she will be installed as the association’s president.

Photo of Patricia A. Harris