American Medical Association gets First Black Female President

Dr. Patrice Harris, a psychiatrist from Atlanta, is the first black female president of the Chicago-based American Medical Association.

What We Know:

  •  With the American Medical Association being the country’s largest association of doctors and medical students, this is a major accomplishment for Harris.
  • She was inducted into the year-long position in June and already has priorities set that she wants to fulfill.
  • She hopes “to elevate the importance of mental health into overall health care, to elevate the importance of health equity, and making sure we have a diverse physician workforce … we need to work toward the faces of physicians matching the faces of our patients.”
  • She is also prioritizing health equity, especially after a recent study found that in Chicago there is a 30-year life expectancy gap between residents of the affluent Streeterville neighborhood and the low-income Englewood neighborhood on the South Side.
  • “It is about your physical environment, whether you have access to healthy, nutritious foods. Even looking at some of the more structural policies in place, such as past discrimination and racism, all of those impact a person’s health, and that’s why you see those differences in zip code,” she said.
  • While the AMA doesn’t represent all U.S. doctors. The organization is an influential advocacy group for a wide range of issues faced in the health and medical fields. They also strongly showed support for the Affordable Care Act since it was passed under President Barack Obama in 2010.
  • The organization has been involved in the abortion debate as well, filing a lawsuit earlier this month to block two laws in North Dakota that threatened the underlying trust between doctors and their patients.
  • Harris stated that the laws “compel physicians to provide information that is false, and misleading, and not science-based. And so that would be a violation of our duty to our patients … it is our obligation to give patients accurate information, and that is why we filed that lawsuit.”

The work that she plans on accomplishing is going to help numerous people. Congrats to Harris for the new position!