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AMA Foundation President emphasizes the societal responsibilities of physicians

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Spring 2013 issue (pdf)

Clarence Chou, MD ’77, Fel ’83, speaks at the American Medical Association Foundation’s 2012 Annual Meeting, where he presided as President.

Clarence Chou, MD ’77, Fel ’83, speaks at the American Medical Association Foundation’s 2012 Annual Meeting, where he presided as President.

Being elected President of the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation Board is a logical highlight in the career of Clarence Chou, MD ’77, Fel ’83, a psychiatrist who has maintained a keen focus on the global future of medicine over the last 30 years.

With a renewed emphasis in the last decade on increasing physicians’ personal involvement in community health, the philanthropic arm of the AMA has worked since 1950 to advance the well-being of Americans and assist outstanding medical students and residents. That mission matches Dr. Chou’s commitment in his clinical psychiatry practice and as volunteer faculty at the Medical College of
Wisconsin (MCW).

President of the AMA Foundation Board since June 2012, Dr. Chou leads meetings of the Board and its executive committee and participates in the AMA’s annual national advocacy conference. He is also charged with advancing the Foundation’s three-year strategic plan, which includes expanding public health programs that benefit both patients and physicians, growing the Foundation’s stakeholder base by building relationships with donors, diversifying revenue with the help of a professional fundraising team, and increasing the visibility and understanding of the Foundation.

“We operate much like a start-up, working with states and specialty foundations to secure the mission and the legacy of the AMA Foundation for the future,” Dr. Chou said.  “Our main focus is providing grants for free community clinics and health education projects, as well as scholarships and research grants.”

In additional to serving as president of the AMA Foundation Board, Dr. Chou is midway through a two-year term as Chair of the Wisconsin Delegation to the AMA House of Delegates, which is the principal policy-making body of the AMA. He has been on the Wisconsin Delegation since 1999 and a regular AMA delegate since 2004.

“Medicine touches so many things globally, and doctors have a responsibility to help shape policy,” Dr. Chou said. “Where is medicine going to be in 25-30 years? How will we be viable and relevant? What value do we bring to our patients?” To that end, Dr. Chou also has been on advisory committees for the Wisconsin State Legislature, the Wisconsin Department of Licensing and Regulation and the Secretary of Health and Family Services.

Board-certified in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Chou is a full-time staff psychiatrist with the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at MCW. He has been a board examiner for his specialty since 1994 and recently spent several years on the CME and lifelong learning committees for his specialty. Dr. Chou says he feels a personal responsibility to help train tomorrow’s physicians, which involves much more than classroom work or clinical skills.

“Physicians have a responsibility to offer more than we think we can, which is why I bring students and residents with me to as many meetings as I can,” Dr. Chou said. “I want them to see how doctors can and should become involved in the community. Organizations can really benefit from the knowledge and critical-thinking skills that medical education teaches you.”

Dr. Chou has volunteered on the boards of numerous community organizations including the Greater Milwaukee National Alliance on Mental Illness, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, the Planning Council of Greater Milwaukee and the City of Milwaukee’s Mayor’s Commission on Crime.

Professionally, Dr. Chou is a past president of the Wisconsin Medical Society and the Medical Society of Milwaukee County and remains an active board member of both organizations. He also is a Wisconsin Representative to the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).

Dr. Chou’s many honors include an APA mentorship award and MCW’s Department of Psychiatry Service Award, both in 2012, as well as the Marvin Wagner, MD, Clinical Preceptor Award. His message to those he teaches and trains is consistent.

“Students, trainees and practicing physicians need to become involved in policy issues early on in their careers because they can have a big impact on the future of medicine,” he said. “This is ultimately to the benefit of our profession and our patients.”

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