July 16, 2020, 10:26 am Cindy Borgmeyer – Last month's Special Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates -- convened as an abbreviated virtual event -- brought welcome news for family medicine, when family physician Gerald Harmon, M.D., of Georgetown, S.C., was named the organization's president-elect. He will become AMA president in June 2021.
Daniel Heinemann, M.D., of Canton, S.D., chair of the AAFP's AMA delegation, celebrated the announcement. "The election of Dr. Gerry Harmon is important for family medicine. As a family physician he has always sought out the AAFP's perspective on issue before the AMA Board of Trustees," Heinemann noted, adding that Harmon routinely joins the Academy's AMA delegation caucus, where delegates discuss issues of key importance to the specialty.
Harmon is vice president of medical affairs for Tidelands Health, a health care delivery network comprising four hospitals and more than 60 outpatient locations, and has practiced in this coastal South Carolina region for more than 35 years. He is also a clinical professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, and is a member of the clinical faculty for the Tidelands Health MUSC Family Medicine Residency Program.
After serving on the AMA Council on Medical Service, Harmon was elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2013, becoming board chair in 2017-2018. A longtime member of the South Carolina Medical Association, Harmon has served as president and board chair of that organization, as well.
On receiving his Air Force commission in 1973, Harmon attended medical school as part of the Air Force Health Professions Scholarship Program, earning his medical degree from the MUSC College of Medicine in 1977. He completed his residency at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. After several assignments as flight surgeon and commander, Harmon transferred to the South Carolina Air National Guard and, in 2003, was named Air National Guard assistant to the surgeon general of the U.S. Air Force, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C.
Harmon received numerous awards and decorations during a decades-long military career that spanned Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, eventually retiring with the rank of major general.
"Family physicians should be proud that Dr. Harmon will be AMA president," Heinemann observed. "He joins an extensive list of distinguished family physician leaders at the AMA."