Black women are making historic moves in medicine. According to Atlanta Daily World Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A., was sworn in as president of the American Medical Association; making her the first African American woman to be at the helm of the country’s largest collective of physicians and medical students.
The inauguration ceremony took place in Chicago on Tuesday. During her inaugural speech, Dr. Harris highlighted the issues that she intends to address as she starts her new role. Amongst the things on her agenda are implementing effective strategies to improve healthcare education and training, combating the crisis surrounding chronic diseases, and eliminating barriers to quality patient care. Dr. Harris also hopes to push the conversations about mental health and diversity in the medical field forward.
“We face big challenges in health care today, and the decisions we make now will move us forward in a future we help create,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “We are no longer at a place where we can tolerate the disparities that plague communities of color, women, and the LGBTQ community. But we are not yet at a place where health equity is achieved e in those communities. I hope to be tangible evidence for young girls and young boys and girls from communities of color that you can aspire to be a physician. Not only that, you can aspire to be a leader in organized medicine.”
Dr. Harris—who has served as an AMA board secretary and AMA board chair—has had a storied medical career thus far. Prior to being appointed to become president of the American Medical Association, she served as the chief health officer of Fulton County, Georgia and has worked with several healthcare organizations to advance their services. She also served as an adjunct professor in Emory University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
Several Black doctors are breaking barriers in the medical field. A group of African American medical professionals recently opened the first Black-owned urgent care center on the South Side of Chicago.