“I will work to make AAPI stronger, more vibrant, united, transparent, politically engaged, ensuring active participation of young physicians, increasing membership, and enabling that AAPI’s voice is heard in the corridors of power,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda said, immediately after assuming office as the 37th President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), on July 11, 2020.
The Consul General of India in Atlanta, Swati Kulkarni, introduced Dr. Jonnalagadda and offered her best wishes to the President of AAPI during the 1st ever Virtual Change of Guard ceremony that was live cast on social media platforms around the world.
In her address, she praised Dr. Jonnalagdda for his leadership and contributions to the society. Describing AAPI as a world leader in medical education and healthcare delivery, Kulkarni urged AAPI to be more politically active.
Along with the new President, new executive committee members also took oath. They included Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect; Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President; Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI; Dr. Satish Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI; Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI’s BOT; Dr. Ami Baxi, YPS President; Dr. Kinjal Solanki, MSRF President; and Dr. Surendra Purohit, Chair of AAPI Charitable Foundation, according to a press release.
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Jonnalgadda vowed to take the nearly four decades old organization to the next level and “bring all the AAPI Chapters, regions, members of the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees to work cohesively and unitedly for the success of AAPI and the realization of its noble mission.” He wants to increase AAPI membership by offering more benefits and opportunities for members.
In his opening remarks, Amit Kumar, Consul General of India in Chicago and the Chief Guest at the event, praised the contributions of Indian American physicians. He lauded the efforts of AAPI especially during the COVID pandemic. He urged AAPI to collaborate in pharma sector and Ayushmaan Bharat as well as in telehealth related issues providing guidelines in collaboration with the MCA of India.
A visual presentation of the history of “Change of Guard” took the AAPI members down the lane through its 37 years of great historical growth under AAPI leaders. Earlier the event began with an inter-faith prayer and meditation, led by leaders of various faiths and praying for several AAPI leaders who have been critically ill due to the pandemic and those who have lost their lives.
Dr. Jonnalagadda was born in a family of physicians. His father was a professor at a medical college in India and his mother was a teacher. He and his siblings aspired to be physicians and dedicate their lives for the greater good of humanity.
As the President of AAPI, the dynamic physician from the state of Andhra Pradesh wants to “develop a committee to work with children of AAPI members who are interested in medical school, to educate on choosing a school and gaining acceptance; develop a committee to work with medical residents who are potential AAPI members, to educate on contract negotiation, patient communication, and practice management; develop a committee to work with AAPI medical students, and to provide proctorship to improve their selection of medical residencies,” said the release.
Dr. Jonnalagadda wants to emphasize the importance of Legislative Agenda both here in the US and overseas, benefitting the physicians and the people AAPI is committed to serve.
According to him, “The growing clout of the physicians of Indian-origin in the United States is seen everywhere as several physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administration across the nation.” He is actively involved with the Indian community and is member at large of the Asian Indian Alliance, which actively participates in a bipartisan way to support and fund electoral candidates.
His vision for AAPI is to increase the awareness of APPI globally and help its voice heard in the corridors of power.
“I would like to see us lobby the US Congress and create an AAPI PAC and advocate for an increase in the number of available Residency Positions and Green Cards to Indian American physicians so as to help alleviate the shortage of doctors in the US,” he said.
A Board-certified Gastroenterologist/Transplant Hepatologist, working in Douglas, GA, Dr. Jonnalagadda is a former Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Georgia. He was the President of Coffee Regional Medical Staff 2018. He served as the Director of Medical Association of Georgia Board from 2016 onwards. He had served as the President of Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage 2007-2008, and was the past Chair of Board of Trustees, GAPI. He was the Chairman of the Medical Association of Georgia, IMG Section, and was a Graduate, Georgia Physicians Leadership Academy (advocacy training).
“AAPI and the Charitable Foundation has several programs in India. Under my leadership with the pioneering efforts of Dr. Surender Purohit, Chairman of AAPI CF, we will be able to initiate several more program benefitting our motherland, India,” Dr. Jonnalagadda said. “We will strive for equity in healthcare delivery globally,” he said.