Susan R. Bailey, MD, an allergist from Fort Worth, recently took office as the 175th President of the American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s premier physician organization. Dr. Bailey is the third consecutive woman to hold the office, a record for the AMA. In addition, the organization announced the new role of Gerald E. Harmon, MD, a family medicine physician from Pawleys Island, South Carolina, as President-Elect. Following a 1-year term, Dr. Harmon will assume the office of President in June 2021.
Susan R. Bailey, MD
Gerald E. Harmon, MD
Sworn in remotely during a virtual Special Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates, Dr. Bailey spoke about her own journey in medicine as well as the AMA’s strategic efforts to remove obstacles that interfere with patient care, to tackle the biggest challenges in health care, and to improve the nation’s health by leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront health crises. “Our journey in medicine is simple: Let doctors be doctors,” Dr. Bailey said in her inaugural address. “After more than 30 years in a small, private practice, I am a passionate defender of the independent physician. Like the AMA, I’m determined to remove all those obstacles that have come between us and our patients. Insurers and government mandates…, burnout and physician suicide, and the coronavirus pandemic have made all of these problems more acute.
“At times, I fear our nation’s dysfunctional health system is held together only by the oath we take when we graduate medical school—the pledge to always put the needs and interests of our patients first. Whether you took the Hippocratic Oath or, as in my case, recited the Prayer of Maimonides, these words demonstrate our loyalty to public service, to the pursuit of science and knowledge. These words bring purpose and meaning to our work, elevating it from a vocation to a profession.”
Dr. Bailey is an allergist in private practice, and she has been with Fort Worth Allergy and Asthma Associates for more than 30 years. First elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2011, she has held numerous leadership positions at the AMA, starting with her role as Chair of the AMA Medical Student Section while an undergraduate at Texas A&M University College of Medicine.
Dr. Harmon has been an AMA board member since 2013, serving as Board Chair from 2017 to 2018. Practicing for more than 30 years as a family medicine specialist in his coastal South Carolina hometown of Georgetown, Dr. Harmon is currently Clinical Professor at two South Carolina medical schools, as well as a member of the clinical faculty for the Tidelands Health Family Medicine residency program.
“I am honored to be elected by my peers as President-Elect of an organization dedicated to driving the future of medicine and improving health care for patients and physicians,” said Dr. Harmon. “I look forward to continuing the AMA’s work to shape America’s health-care system and lead transformation in health-care delivery to ensure physicians can continue to provide exceptional care and comfort to our patients.”