- Only the fourth woman to lead the organization in its nearly four decades history, the Texas-based physician wants to get rid of discrimination and fight South Asian racial bias.
As the newly elected president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin or AAPI, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula wants to make the largest ethnic physician medical organization in the U.S. a premium healthcare leader, focussing on improving and reforming the current healthcare system and help towards making a better healthcare model for the patients.
The San Antonio, Texas-based pediatric anesthesiologist was speaking on the final day of the 39th AAPI Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, July 4, where she assumed charge of her new role. Outgoing president Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, passed on the gavel to Gotimukula, only the fourth woman to lead the organization in its nearly four decades history. She was sworn-in along with a new executive committee — Dr. Ravi Kolli, president-elect; Dr. Anjana Samadder, vice president; Dr. Satheesh Kathula, secretary; Dr. Krishan Kumar, treasurer; Dr. Kusum Punjabi, chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. Soumya Neravetla, president, Young Physicians Section; and Dr. Ayesha Singh, president, Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section.
In her inaugural address, Gotimukula traced the history of AAPI members from their initial years as students in the U.S., to becoming “successful and caring doctors who play a crucial role in the American healthcare system.” She talked about their initiation into AAAPI, where they were able to make “a bigger impact with the many academic, philanthropic and social initiatives.”
Additionally, she acknowledged and thanked AAPI’s founding members and past leaders who contributed to the growth of the organization. “We stand on the shoulders of our predecessors, who fought the good fight in bringing AAPI to where we stand today; vibrant, strong, healthcare heroes being recognized and valued by our peers, communities and most importantly the patients. We are the largest ethnic physician organization in the United States and help to elevate the voice of Indian Americans everywhere.”
Noting that the organization has “so much more room to grow and serve” in the future beyond COVID-19, Gotimukula and her team will focus on improving health equity; get rid of discrimination; fight South Asian racial bias; reduce physician burnout; and, improve the career trajectory of the younger generation of Indian American doctors who will be taking care of us as we age.” She urged the AAPI fraternity to “participate. Get involved. Get engaged. Lend a hand. And stand up and be heard.”
Gotimukula, a board-certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist, practicing since 2007, is affiliated with Christus Santa Rosa, Baptist, and Methodist Healthcare systems in San Antonio. After graduating with distinction from Kakatiya Medical College, NTR University of Health Sciences in India, she did Residency at the University of Miami and University of Illinois, and Fellowship in Pediatric Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan.
The convention was kicked off on July 2, after nearly two years of isolation, virtual meetings, and COVID fears. Remembering and memorializing the brave AAPI Warriors and thousands of healthcare workers, who sacrificed their lives at the service of humanity, especially during the pandemic, was the major theme during the convention. “This convention is a tribute to those who have lost their lives and to the frontline medical professionals who are at the forefront, combating the pandemic around the globe,” Jonnalagadda said.
Congressman Buddy Carter, representing the 1st District in Georgia; Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux representing the 7th Congressional district of Georgia; India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu; and Dr. Swati Vijay Kulkarni, Consul General of India in Atlanta addressed the convention, organized by AAPI’s Atlanta Chapter, chaired by Dr. Sreeni Gangasani.
Bollywood actress Pooja Batra said she flew in from India to be with the physicians, acknowledging their commitment and dedication to serving humanity, especially during the pandemic.
Actress Mallika Sherawat, who delivered the keynote address at the Women’s Forum, shared her inspiring and daring personal life story with the audience.
The entertainment segment included Indian American actress Vidya Vox and Ravi Drums Jholakia; Bollywood Hungama Dhum Dhama Dhum with popular stars Kosha Pandya; traditional dandiya raas by AAPI’s own Garba King, Dr. Dhiren Buch with live music by Aradhana Music Group of Los Angeles; and fashion show by Ghazala Khan.