A Fort Worth-based physician with numerous Texas A&M ties is the new president-elect of the American Medical Association.
Allergist and immunologist Dr. Susan R. Bailey was elected earlier this month to be the AMA’s new president-elect at the association’s annual meeting. She served as a regent for the Texas A&M University System from 1999 to 2005. A member of the A&M class of 1978, Bailey was part of the College of Medicine’s inaugural class.
Following a one-year term as president-elect, Bailey will assume the office of AMA president in June 2020. In her acceptance speech, she described her election as “a deep honor and privilege.”
“Challenging times remain for the health care system and as AMA president-elect, I pledge to serve as a strong voice and dedicated advocate for patients and physicians on the pressing health care issues confronting our nation,” Bailey said.
In a Friday interview with The Eagle, Bailey said she has already testified at a D.C. hearing on the nation’s opioid crisis, and she looks forward to being the lead spokesperson for the AMA.
“I am most excited about getting to travel around the country and visit with physicians and medical students and talk about what their needs are and about how the AMA can help them — and what the AMA is doing now,” she said.
Bailey grew up in Houston in a family of TCU graduates and fans; her high school chemistry teacher suggested Texas A&M as a place she would thrive.
“I lived for all three of my undergrad years in Krueger Hall with the same group of wonderful women that I’m still friends with,” she said of her time as an A&M undergraduate.
Bailey was active in student government as an undergraduate. She added that her time in student government “gave me my love of formal parliamentary procedure.”
Bailey went on to become an honor graduate of Texas A&M University College of Medicine in the school’s charter class, graduating in 1981. On Friday, Bailey spoke glowingly of her time at A&M’s medical school, saying staff and faculty nurtured her and just over 30 classmates.
“It was an amazing experience being in the first class of a brand new medical school,” she said. “The faculty were all super excited to have us there, they were very invested in our success, [and] it was a very positive atmosphere.”
Bailey added she and her classmates have remained close. They completed two years of coursework in College Station before relocating to Temple to continue studies at what was then Scott & White Hospital.
She began private practice in 1988; she has been in the private practice of allergy and clinical immunology at Fort Worth Allergy & Asthma Associates.
The first female Texas A&M graduate to become a regent for the Texas A&M University System, Bailey has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M University as well as the College of Medicine.
“Having the three leaders of the AMA all be women is, I think, a tremendous achievement and reflects the increasing role of women in medicine,” Bailey said. “Women now comprise slightly more than half of all medical students, and I think it’s very important for the country to see that the AMA is inclusive of physicians from every group.”
The current president is Dr. Patrice A. Harris, a psychiatrist from Atlanta who became the 174th president at the annual meeting earlier this month. Harris is the first black woman to be the AMA’s president.
Dr. Nancy Dickey, a professor at the College of Medicine and the president emeritus of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, served as the first female AMA president in the late 1990s. Dickey praised Bailey professionally and personally in a Friday interview.
“Texas A&M’s medical school has, from the very beginning, had a commitment — appropriate for A&M — for teaching leadership and responsibility,” Dickey said. “As she is one of our original students, I think this is an acknowledgment that we not only produce great physicians, which she is, but physicians who understand and step up to the role of leading the profession — and in many ways leading the public through the profession.”
Dickey said Bailey, who has a family in addition to her private practice and the myriad leadership roles she has taken on, is “a good role model for women who are looking into medicine, and in the ability to juggle the multiple work/life balance issues.”
“All of those things take a commitment to constantly manage the demands on your time and still take care of yourself,” Dickey said. “I think Sue is, in so many ways, a good role model for women who are looking at medicine.”
Bailey, who was appointed by then-Gov. George W. Bush as a regent in 1999, said that values of respect, integrity, leadership and selfless service — codified into the RELLIS campus name — were impressed upon her through her time at A&M.
“There’s no question that I got those ideas instilled in me while I was at A&M,” she said. “It makes you a better doctor, and it definitely prepared me to become the national medical leader that I am.”