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Professional News
Election Spotlights Psychiatry's Influence at AMA
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 14 page 1-23

For psychiatry, the recent meeting of the AMA's House of Delegates must rank as its most victorious meeting in many years.

Two psychiatrists and prominent APA members were elected to the highest offices of the AMA, and two others won reelection to important policymaking councils. The elections occurred at this year's annual meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Chicago in June.

Past APA Assembly Speaker Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., who has served as speaker of the AMA House of Delegates for the last four years, was elected the AMA's president-elect, and Patrice Harris, M.D., was elected to the AMA Board of Trustees.

Additionally, former APA President and Assembly Speaker John McIntyre, M.D., won election to a second term on the AMA's influential Council on Medical Service. That council develops and forwards to the AMA's House of Delegates socioeconomic-related policies, such as those involving health care reform and access-to-care issues that impact the practice of medicine.

And Stuart Gitlow, M.D., Ph.D., won reelection to the Council on Science and Public Health.

Lazarus, a psychiatrist in private practice in Denver, was elected without opposition and will assume the office of AMA president in June 2012. He is the first psychiatrist to be elected AMA president in 72 years. "It's a reflection of the respect that our profession has attained within the AMA, so I will be honored to be the second psychiatrist to be president," Lazarus told Psychiatric News.

He was first elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2003, and in addition to his tenure as speaker of the AMA House of Delegates, Lazarus has been president of the Colorado Medical Society and the Colorado Psychiatric Society. Lazarus received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Colorado Psychiatric Society in 2008 and a Special Presidential Commendation from APA in 2003.

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Patrice Harris, M.D., a former APA trustee, speaks to the American Medical Association's House of Delegates following her election to the AMA Board of Trustees at last month's annual meeting of the house. 

Credit: Ted Grudzinski

Harris, a past member of the APA Board of Trustees, was elected to the AMA board in her first run for a board seat, an especially remarkable achievement at the AMA. She has served as a member of the AMA Women Physicians Congress and chaired the AMA Council on Legislation.

As director of health services for Fulton County, Ga., which includes Atlanta, Harris 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.

She has also been president of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association and was the founding president of that district branch's political action committee.

In her acceptance speech on the floor of the House of Delegates, Harris said that her goal as a board member will be to promote "physicians working together for a healthier future, a healthier practice environment, a healthier population, and a healthier collaboration with the federation of medicine."

APA leaders and members of the psychiatric delegation agreed that the election results from this year's House of Delegates meeting are striking evidence of the influence of psychiatry within the "house of medicine."

In addition to having a psychiatrist as president and one on the board, APA members also have been elected or appointed to key policymaking councils of the AMA; these include, in addition to McIntyre and Gitlow, Louis Kraus, M.D., who is a member of the Council on Science and Public Health; and Alfred Herzog, M.D., and Clifford Moy, M.D., who are on the Council on Long-Range Planning and Development. (The latter council makes recommendations to the AMA's board regarding important strategic issues and directions related to the AMA's vision, goals, and priorities.)

Additionally, the chair of the governing council of the Section on International Medical Graduates, Nyapati Rao, M.D., and the vice chair, Vijaya Appareddy, M.D., are psychiatrists.

This year former APA President Steven Sharfstein, M.D., was named the AMA's Non-Trustee Commissioner to the Joint Commission's Board of Commissioners, replacing past APA President Joseph T. English, M.D., who is retiring from the position (Psychiatric News, March 4, 2011).

Finally, psychiatrist Clarence Chou, M.D., was elected president-elect of the AMA Foundation Board of Directors.

"This kind of success does not happen overnight and does not happen by magic," said Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., chair of the AMA Section Council on Psychiatry. "It's the result of strategizing and networking over a decade, building relationships and alliances within the AMA in a collaborative effort with the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and with other medical organizations and state delegations.

"Having psychiatrists in the highest offices of the AMA should signal to APA members the enormous respect our profession has attained within medicine generally," Robinowitz emphasized. "And even those who are not members of the AMA need to be aware that our work at the AMA has implications for all physicians in the areas of health-system reform, reimbursement, scope-of-practice, and many other issues that affect physicians." 1_1.inline-graphic-1.gif

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Patrice Harris, M.D., a former APA trustee, speaks to the American Medical Association's House of Delegates following her election to the AMA Board of Trustees at last month's annual meeting of the house. 

Credit: Ted Grudzinski

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