CHICAGO – Gerald E. Harmon, M.D., a family medicine physician from Pawleys Island, S.C., was sworn in today as the 176th president of the American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s premier physician organization. Sworn in remotely during the virtual Special Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates, Dr. Harmon spoke about his own journey in medicine, the profound challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMA’s recently released plan to embed racial justice and advance health equity.

Dr. Harmon’s inaugural address is available by clicking here.

“The COVID pandemic has revealed enormous gaps in how we care for people and communities in America, demonstrated in the disproportionate impact of this pandemic on communities of color and in the weaknesses of our under-funded and under-resourced Public Health infrastructure,” Dr. Harmon said. “During such times of struggle and heartbreak, it is important for us to ‘remember our why.’ Why did we enter medicine? Why do we continue to struggle against overwhelming administrative and regulatory burdens? Why are we risking our health and our families during this global pandemic? I would submit that the education, the training, the years of experience and sacrifice we have gone through has prepared us for such a time as this.”

Dr. Harmon has been an AMA board member since 2013, serving as board chair from 2017 to 2018. Prior to his election to the AMA board, Dr. Harmon served on the AMA Council on Medical Service. Additionally, Dr. Harmon has held several leadership positions with the South Carolina Medical Association, including chairman of the board of trustees and president.

Practicing for more than 30 years as a family medicine specialist in his coastal South Carolina hometown of Georgetown, Dr. Harmon is currently a clinical professor at two South Carolina medical schools, as well as a member of the clinical faculty for the Tidelands Health MUSC Family Medicine residency program. Dr. Harmon also serves as an adviser to the board of trustees of a community health system and as vice president in a multispecialty physician practice. He also serves as medical director for several organizations including a non-profit hospice, and volunteers as medical supervisor for his local school district’s 23 schools.

Dr. Harmon received his undergraduate degree in physics and mathematics from the University of South Carolina and has since been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus. He received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and completed a residency training program in family medicine with the U.S. Air Force at Eglin AFB, Florida.

In a 35-year military career, Dr. Harmon served as chief surgeon for the National Guard Bureau and as assistant surgeon general for the U.S. Air Force before retiring as a Major General. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

Dr. Harmon and his wife, Linda, enjoy spending time outdoors in their coastal hometown of Georgetown with their three married children and eight grandchildren.

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The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.

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