Professional News
Psychiatrists Vie for AMA Positions: Harris Seeks Board of Trustees Seat
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 10 page 8-35

Psychiatrist Patrice Harris, M.D., is a candidate for the Board of Trustees of the AMA.

Harris, who is chair of the AMA Council on Legislation and serves as a delegate from APA to the AMA, is supported in her candidacy for the board by the Section Council on Psychiatry (which includes APA, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law), the Medical Association of Georgia, and the Southeastern Delegation to the AMA House of Delegates.

The election will be held at next month's meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Chicago.

In an interview with Psychiatric News, Harris said that the AMA Board of Trustees will be involved in the coming year in a range of issues affecting every physician in America. These include the physician response to the ever-evolving health care landscape, access to care, efforts to replace the flawed Medicare physician payment formula, mechanisms for funding graduate medical education, looming physician workforce shortages, and strategies for reducing the costs of defensive medicine and malpractice liability.

Additionally, the board will need to address how to increase AMA membership.

As a private-practice physician, public health administrator, patient advocate, and medical society lobbyist, Harris said that she brings the skills and the experience necessary to contribute as an effective board member on all of these issues.

"My experience has given me a keen understanding of what is needed to ensure that physicians are in the lead in discussions and debate about an evolving health care system," she said. "My work as chair of the Council on Legislation and as a lobbyist in Georgia has taught me the perils of division and the importance of unity. As physicians, we need to speak with one voice."

In addition to the private practice of general and child and adolescent psychiatry, Harris is director of health services for Fulton County, Ga., which includes Atlanta. She directs all county health services, including health partnerships that deliver a wide range of public safety, behavioral health, and primary care treatment and prevention services.

Harris told Psychiatric News that psychiatry is an integral and valued member of the house of medicine at the AMA and that physicians of every specialty have come to recognize mental health as an essential part of general medical health. She noted that AMA support was crucial to the passage of parity legislation and that the organization continues to be a leader on issues of vital importance to psychiatry—€”especially scope-of-practice issues.

"The AMA Scope of Practice Partnership has been enormously helpful to APA district branches in responding to efforts to grant psychologists and other nonphysicians the right to practice medicine by legislative fiat," she said.

She added that the "medical home," with which many states are experimenting as a model for delivery system reform, must have room for psychiatrists. "It is vital that we are at the table as these new care models are piloted to ensure that psychiatrists are considered as integral leaders of health teams." she said.

APA members who wish to aid in Harris's candidacy should contact physicians active in their state medical societies and request that the state's AMA delegates vote for her in June. 8_2.inline-graphic-1.gif

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