Forrest General Hospital Congratulates Hattiesburg Woman for Serving as National AMA Alliance President
Both Heather and Brian Rifkin, MD, serve at helm of respective medical groups
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (July 7, 2021) Heather Rifkin, PharmD, of Hattiesburg was recently installed as national president of the American Medical Association (AMA) Alliance. The AMA is a nationwide network of physician families, while the AMA Alliance represents these families. The Alliance’s nationwide network encompasses all stages of life in a physician family – from the training years to retirement.
Rifkin’s husband, Brian Rifkin, MD, an interventional nephrologist with Hattiesburg Clinic, currently serves as medical staff president at Forrest General Hospital. In his role, he and the hospital’s chief medical officer approve policies brought forth by different departments and approve/re-approve medical staff appointments as well as discuss issues brought by the physicians and staff to improve safety and satisfaction of the patients and medical staff. This year he was involved in starting a new recognition program, Doctors C.A.R.E, for Forrest General doctors to award them for their communications skills and efficient care.
Both Heather and Brian are serving in roles which help lead the way for healthcare workers and their loved ones.
Heather’s goals are to uphold the mission and vision of the AMA Alliance while guiding and leading her team of volunteers. “Our core values: Connect, Educate & Advocate are at the heart of everything we do,” she said. “Physician Family Health & Wellness will be a large part of our programming this year. Our organization recognizes the stress of being a medical family, but COVID has significantly affected family units, and the medical family is certainly no exception. My goal is to provide programming and resources that will help physician families stay well, connected, strong and encouraged for the future. Physician Family Health & Wellness can encompass many different facets, and giving families tools they can use is imperative to building healthy, connected communities.”
Dr. Rifkin is excited about this new role his wife has taken on. “I am extremely proud of Heather and her national role supporting physician families,” Brian said. “As the president (and only the second from Mississippi) during the organization’s Centennial year, Heather will work to create networks of physician spouses across the country, promote healthy communities and advocate for legislation that supports the efforts of the AMA.”
The Rifkins married in Hershey, Penn., during Brian Rifkin’s chief year of residency in 2002. His fellowship took them to Yale University in New Haven, Conn., for a stay before they relocated to South Mississippi one month before Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005. One of the invitations Heather Rifken had waiting on her table at the time was to a local Alliance meeting which was cancelled because of the storm. She later attended her first local meeting with a fellow physician’s spouse. She remained active on the local level while her boys were still young but took on a larger role when they started school. She served as county president and then became more active on a state level.
Heather will be honored with a reception on August 13 at The Westin-Jackson between the close of the MSMA's Annual Meeting Reference Committee hearings and the beginning of the MSMA Presidential Inaugural Gala.
Rifkin is a 2000 cum laude graduate of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Penn., where she earned her Doctorate of Pharmacy. She has worked in various pharmacy specialties and currently maintains pharmacy licenses in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. She served as MSMA Alliance president in 2017-2018. During this time, she was able to join her passion for the Alliance with her own passions of spearheading the installation of drug disposal boxes in the state. She also distributed free drug disposal pouches for home use and medication lock bottles to help prevent medications (like opiates) getting into the wrong hands. The couple even co-authored a paper for the Journal of the MSMA on the use of Narcan for opiate overdoses.
“My husband and my boys have always been very supportive of any endeavor I pursue,” said Heather. Alliance work has been part of her life since 2005 when her family relocated to Hattiesburg. “Volunteering, serving others and leaving a lasting positive impact on our community is something our whole family prides itself on,” she said.
Her husband echoes her sentiments. “Medicine is a ‘family sport’; and we have supported and advocated for each other during the 15 years we have lived in Mississippi,” he said. “We have two boys ages 12 and 15, and I have a busy medical practice, but we make it work!”