By Julia Torres
Robert M. Wah, M.D., a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from the University of Oregon, has been voted the new president-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA is the nation’s largest organization of physicians. Wah will serve as president-elect for one year and then begin his presidency in June 2014.
After receiving his medical degree from the Oregon Health Sciences University, he completed his ob-gyn residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and later was awarded a reproductive endocrinology fellowship at Harvard in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Wah has had an active role in the field of reproductive medicine, serving as a delegate for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as leading several initiatives in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Wah has a very strong military background having served for more than twenty-three years as a captain in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. He now practices and teaches at the Walter Reed National Military Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Very outspoken, Wah has been involved in many advocacy initiatives. Wah has spoken in Congress several times about medical liability reform and reforms in Medicare. He was also a leader in setting up a nationwide online medication registry for 1.5 million patients in the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In bringing the issues of medicine to the national stage, Wah was worked for two cabinet members, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense and the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and has spoken on several national networks and been a voice in other news sources including CBS, CNBC, CSPAN, SkyTV, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and USAToday.
On his website, Wah expresses his vision of how he sees change in the field of medicine and how the AMA will be a vital part of progress. “I work to make our AMA an essential part of every physician’s professional life—through successes in advocacy, professionalism, and protecting the doctor-patient relationship. There is great change happening in our healthcare system and now is the time for physicians to join together and improve our healthcare system for physicians and our patients.”
Wah has held several leadership positions throughout his career. He served in the AMA House of Delegates for over seventeen years, was chair of the AMA-YPS, chair of AMA Council on Long Range Planning and Development, and served on the AMA Board of Trustees for eight years. Wah has also shown a deep commitment to higher education through his leadership. He has been part of the faculty at the Harvard Medical School, the University of California – San Diego, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Wah has also taught fellows, residents, and medical students at the National Institutes of Health and the Walter Reed National Medical Center, where he was voted teacher of the year by his residents.
Julia Torres is a senior at Saint Joseph’s University majoring in English. She became a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2013. Saint Joseph’s is home to the Phi of Pennsylvania Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.