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Patrice Harris’ AMA Election A Shining Example of Medical Leadership in 2018


After winning the election at the Annual Meeting of The House of Delegates of the American Medical Association (AMA) last week in Chicago, longtime APA Member Patrice Harris, M.D., will serve as President-elect of the association. She received a standing ovation from the delegates when her election was announced. Dr. Harris has served on the AMA’s Board of Trustees since 2011 and is chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. She will be the first African-American woman to serve as President at the AMA when she assumes office in June 2019. I offer her my sincere congratulations on a well-deserved election result, as well as personal tanks for all this time she has been an active member of APA and a personal friend to many of us.

Dr. Harris’ election to such a high office at the AMA is a great example of medical leadership and represents a real opportunity for even closer collaboration between psychiatrists and our colleagues in other medical specialties.

New technology and breakthroughs in medical research make this a very exciting time to be a psychiatrist, but persistent challenges for both our patients and our profession remain as we work to increase access to care and improve the practice of medicine.

It is heartening to know that with Dr. Harris serving as President-Elect and then President of the AMA, psychiatrists will not only have a voice in some of the most important discussions of our day for health care and the practice of medicine, but will be taking the lead in them as well.

Over the next two years, we and our colleagues in other medical specialties will confront issues related to medical reporting, physician and patient safety, ethical use of telemedicine, institutional limits on care, and the health and health care access issues of incarcerated individuals who have mental disorders.

Another pressing issue is the ongoing opioid crisis, the cost of which deepens with each passing day. This epidemic affects every segment of our population and will need the combined efforts of physicians across the house of medicine to decisively end it before the catastrophic toll it has already exacted worsens.

It is incumbent on organizations like APA and AMA to work together make sure that our members and their patients are represented when these issues go before our lawmakers in Congress, in State legislatures, and as we meet and confer with our medical colleagues. It is also important for our members to share their local perspective on these issues with the lawmakers in their communities. Many of the resolutions to issues decided nationally were begun at the local level because someone decided to step up and speak out. If you feel the urge to write or call your representatives about an issue you are passionate about, especially if it relates to mental health, I urge you to act on it.

Psychiatrists remain the medical professionals best positioned to treat mental illness and substance use disorders, so we must take every opportunity we can to lead the way as we seek to change the landscape of health care in this country for the better. Congratulations Patrice on your well-deserved and earned election, we look forward in continuing to work with you and the AMA as we all try to work to ensure access and evidenced-based and quality care for our patients.


Post by Saul Levin M.D., M.P.A.

Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., FRCP-E, is APA's CEO and Medical Director. Read Dr. Levin's full biography

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