On Tuesday, Dr. Patrice Harris was sworn in as the 174th president of the American Medical Association (AMA). This is historic because Dr. Harris becomes the FIRST Black woman to head the organization since its inception in 1847. She will lead an organization of over 240,000 professionals.
During her inauguration speech, Dr. Harris spoke on what it took to get to where she is today in the organization. She said, “It’s truly a dream come true to stand before you tonight. A dream my ancestors, parents, my extended family, and my friends supported before it even entered my imagination. A dream my West Virginia, Georgia, psychiatry and AMA families helped me achieve. And I know in my heart that, tonight, I am my ancestors' wildest dreams.”
The doctor from West Virginia had an extreme amount of experience leading up to her selection. Previously, she served on the board for the Medical Association if Georgia's Council on Legislation. She was also the president of Georgia's Psychiatric Physicians Association and the founding president of Georgia's Psychiatry Political Action Committee. If there was not a door for her to walk through, she created her own. In 2016, another first, she was tapped as the first Black woman to lead the AMA's Board of Trustees.
As if that already isn't enough, Dr. Harris is also an adjunct professor at Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine. She also is an active member of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha and not to be out done, she has her own private practice to run as well. Dr. Harris also chairs the AMA's Opioid Task Force.
She finished up her speech by saying, “We are no longer at a place where underrepresented groups are not welcome in medicine, but we are not yet at a place where underrepresented groups are entering or graduating from medical schools at the rates of their peers."