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American Medical Association to Appoint Its First Ever Black Woman President

Patrice A. Harris, M.D., a psychiatrist from Atlanta, Ga., has been elected as the new president-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA) by physicians gathered at the Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Chicago.

Dr. Harris has diverse experience as a private practicing physician, public health administrator, patient advocate and physician spokesperson. During her entire career, Dr. Harris has been a leader in organized medicine to ensure the voice of physicians and patients is represented in health care transformation.
“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 Dr. 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.”

Dr. Harris is the first African-American woman to hold the office.

First elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2011, Dr. Harris has held the executive offices of AMA board secretary and AMA board chair. Dr. Harris will continue to serve as chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force, and has been active on several other AMA taskforces and committees on health information technology, payment and delivery reform, and private contracting. She has also chaired the influential AMA Council on Legislation and co-chaired the Women Physicians Congress.

Prior to her AMA service, she was elected to the American Psychiatric Association Board of Trustees and president of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association. She was also the founding president of the Georgia Psychiatry Political Action Committee. In 2007, Dr. Harris was selected Psychiatrist of the Year by the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association.

As former chief health officer for Fulton County, Ga., Dr. Harris spearheaded efforts to integrate public health, behavioral health and primary care services. Dr. Harris has also served as medical director for the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Currently, Dr. Harris continues in private practice and consults with both public and private organizations on health service delivery and emerging trends in practice and health policy. She is an adjunct assistant professor in the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. Harris received her medical degree from the West Virginia University School of Medicine and completed a psychiatry residency and child psychiatry fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine. She was inducted in 2007 to the West Virginia University Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

Following a year-long term as AMA president-elect, Dr. Harris will be installed as the AMA president in June 2019.

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