In a speech concluding a historic and challenging term as American Medical Association president, Fort Worth allergist and immunologist Susan R. Bailey, MD, shared sympathetic and inspiring words for her colleagues as she reflected on a year defined by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has presented us with the ultimate test. And though the pandemic will continue for some time, I am more confident than ever that our physician community will emerge from it stronger, wiser, and more resilient than before … and that in facing these challenges we have inspired countless others, doctors we may never know, to choose medicine and begin journeys of their own,” she said during her farewell remarks at the virtual Special Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates held June 11-16.
The Houston native applauded organized medicine’s accomplishments during a difficult year and urged physicians to continue their hard work to advance telemedicine; to fight for “meaningful and affordable” health coverage; to call attention to racial injustice and other root causes of health inequities; to remove administrative burdens that interfere with patient care; and to “stand up for science” and be “a credible and reliable source for information in a time of rampant misinformation.”
“It is impossible to know whose lives we touch when we stand up for what’s right,” Dr. Bailey said. “The same can be said for our work together at the AMA and the countless people we inspire through our leadership, our advocacy, and our action.”
Dr. Bailey’s colleagues say she has an inspiring resume herself: She was the first woman accepted to Texas A&M University’s College of Medicine; the first woman physician to be both TMA president and AMA president; and the sixth woman physician – and the third in a row – to lead the AMA. Her organized medicine resume also includes stints as president of the Tarrant County Medical Society as well as speaker of the TMA and AMA House of Delegates.
TMA Immediate Past President Diana L. Fite, MD, said she was proud of her colleague’s accomplishment and “that she was representing us, especially as a Texan and as a past president of TMA, and under very trying circumstances.”
“Usually, the AMA president travels all around the country to almost every state there is, to other countries, also doing multiple interviews on many, many national newscasts and other venues,” Dr. Fite added. Despite being restricted from doing such tasks, she said Dr. Bailey “still had very influential statements to make and made a difference in comforting patients, and in informing physicians and others about the coronavirus. She was a great conduit of information that was helpful to everybody.”
Added Texas Delegation Chair David N. Henkes, MD, "Our nation’s doctors and public needed an authoritative source on the AMA and its response to the COVID-19 virus and Dr. Bailey aptly filled that need. As AMA President in a year plagued by adversity, Dr. Bailey led by example, resulting in us, as physicians, growing stronger and more resilient than ever before."
Dr. Bailey completed her residency and fellowship training at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and has been in private practice in Fort Worth since 1988. She is a mother and grandmother and is married to Fort Worth attorney Doug Bailey.