Atlanta psychiatrist Patrice A. Harris will take the helm of American Medical Association after being elected president Tuesday at the Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Chicago.
Harris, who is the chief health officer for Fulton County, becomes the first African-American woman to hold the office. Following a year-long term as AMA president-elect, she will be installed as president in June 2019.
Harris has experience as a private practicing physician, public health administrator, patient advocate and physician spokesperson. She currently works in private practice and consults with both public and private organizations on health service delivery and emerging trends in practice and health policy, according to an AMA news release. Harris is also an adjunct assistant professor in the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
“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,” Harris said in the release. “I am committed to preserving the central role of the physician-patient relationship in our healing art. 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 was first elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2011, and has held the executive offices of AMA board secretary and AMA board chair. As Fulton County’s chief health officer, Harris spearheaded efforts to integrate public health, behavioral health and primary care services. She also served as medical director for the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.
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, she was selected Psychiatrist of the Year by the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association.