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As originally published by Mega Doctor NEWS newsprint edition July 2020

Courtesy AMA

CHICAGO – Susan R. Bailey, M.D., an allergist from Fort Worth, was sworn 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 first for the AMA. Sworn in remotely during a virtual Special Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates, Dr. Bailey spoke about her own journey in medicine and the AMA’s strategic efforts to remove obstacles that interfere with patient care; drive the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care; and improve the health of the nation by leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront health crises.

During her speech that she called “The hero’s journey”, she said, “The inauguration of a new AMA president is typically a very formal, black-tie affair with great celebration and fanfare. In my case, my family and close friends were all excited and ready to fly to Chicago to celebrate with me.”

She added, “I had a beautiful gown and Broadway entertainment and red velvet cake for dessert all picked out.” 

She continued, “My grandson was going to look so adorable in his tux, just like his daddy and his uncle did at his age when I became president of the Tarrant County Medical Society.”

She pointed out that she was planning one final bow with the predecessors, Doctors Patrice Harris and Barbara McAneny, capping the historic year with three consecutive women presidents.

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“But the coronavirus had other plans. And seemingly overnight, our world changed. So here I stand, in a nearly empty studio, talking to you through a video screen.”

She gallantly told her video audience, “No matter the circumstance, I am grateful to address you for the first time as AMA president, and I am so honored to carry the mantle of leadership for this organization I have been proud to serve for 40 years.”

On her journey to become AMA president, she was asked who her heroes were when growing up. She never was into make-believe superheroes as a kid. 

“It was real people in my life whom I most admired and emulated; the people who inspired me and pushed me to a life beyond anything I could have imagined for myself.” “My heroes were my physicians, and still are.”

Dr. Bailey told the audience that she had significant allergies and asthma as a little girl, the allergists were a guiding light in her family. In fact, the McGovern Allergy Clinic in her hometown practically raised her, instilling in a passion for medicine, and teaching her the basics about working in a medical office—how to take a patient’s history, perform allergy testing and how to give a good shot.

“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, and, 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 has made all of these problems more acute.

“At times I fear that our nation’s dysfunctional health system is held together only by the oath that 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 has been with Fort Worth Allergy and Asthma Associates for more than 30 years.

First elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2011, Dr. Bailey served as vice-speaker and speaker of the House of Delegates, the AMA’s primary policy-making body. Dr. Bailey has held numerous leadership positions at the AMA over the years including two terms on the AMA Council on Medical Education, culminating as chair of this influential advisory council. She was a member of the AMA’s Advisory Panel to the Women in Medicine Project and the AMA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Women Physicians, the precursors to today’s AMA Women Physicians Section. Dr. Bailey also has represented the AMA in the American Board of Medical Specialties Assembly, the board of directors of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, and currently serves on the board of directors of COLA, a national laboratory accreditation organization. Dr. Bailey has been active in the AMA since medical school when she served as chair of the AMA Medical Student Section.

Prior to becoming an AMA officer, Dr. Bailey served as president of both the Texas Medical Association and Tarrant County Medical Society. She also served as vice speaker and speaker of the more than 500-member Texas Medical Association House of Delegates as well as for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology House of Delegates.

An honor graduate of Texas A&M University College of Medicine, Dr. Bailey was the first female Texas A&M graduate to become a regent for the Texas A&M University System and has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M University as well as the College of Medicine.

She completed her residency and fellowship training at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Allergy and Immunology and is a distinguished fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

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