I completed my residency at the University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital, under the mentorship of John Romano, George Engel, and Otto Thaler. Together, they taught me the biopsychosocial model of psychiatric care. They inspired me with the values that patients’ needs come first, teaching is noble, and that fighting for one’s convictions and professional values defines the essence of personal and professional character. A year of fellowship in community psychiatry at Harvard Medical School solidified my social concerns.
I worked with community groups to set up a comprehensive primary care center and a senior center for the Greater Boston Asian community and a bilingual day care center for the town of Lexington, Mass.
As the medical director of Long Term Care for Mental Health for San Francisco and medical director of SF Mental Health Rehabilitation Facility, I am a leader in ensuring the provision of quality psychiatric care for our chronic mentally ill citizens. As a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, I actively cultivate future psychiatric leaders.
I have served in APA for the past 26 years, including 15 years in the Assembly and four years as a Representative of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society.
During my tenure as chair of the APA Elections Committee, we were able to streamline election procedures, open up electronic telecommunication, and shorten the campaign period. With the help of the Assembly three years ago, I successfully led the effort to stop a psychologists’ initiative to become "independent medical practitioners" at the VA.
This year, as your recorder, I have worked to
• strengthen the Assembly’s governance infrastructure through enhancement of APA’s electronic capability
• successfully stop another psychologist effort at the VA to become medical practitioners
• tighten APA component spending without compromising the components’ important work
• successfully ensure inclusion of cultural factors in the development efforts for DSM-V.
If elected Assembly speaker-elect, I will strive to place psychiatrists and psychiatry in the driver’s seat of our nation’s mental health agenda. Here are my ideas:
• Advance quality psychiatric care. Egregious managed care practices must be stopped! I will work to ensure that psychiatrists have adequate time and reimbursement to provide quality care. Let’s mount a campaign to help the American public understand that we, as physicians specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, offer unique psychiatric services that no other mental health professional can provide. The psychologists’ effort to gain prescriptive authority without proper medical education and experience undermines quality care and must not be tolerated. Psychiatrists today must be equipped with culturally competent skills to practice in an increasingly diverse U.S. society, and I will work on a program to accomplish this.
• End Medicare discrimination against mental patients and mental illness. Medicare’s requirement for a 50 percent copayment for psychiatric outpatient services as compared with 20 percent for services for other general medical illnesses is blatantly discriminatory. Spearheaded by the Northern California Psychiatric Society, we will bring an action item to the Assembly to mobilize consumer advocacy groups to end this discrimination.
• Enhance APA recruitment and retention of our members. Membership is the lifeblood of our organization. I have worked with our Assembly Executive Committee to elevate recruitment and retention of membership as a priority item for our Association. We need to take the next step now to work more closely with our district branches to reverse the trend of declining membership. We absolutely need a sound electronic database to track membership issues. Our Web site needs to be more innovative, informative, and interactive. I’ll reach out to recruit medical students, residents, early career psychiatrists, women, international medical graduates, minority and underrepresented colleagues, and colleagues at the VA, state hospital, prison, and rural settings.
• Maintain an effective APA governance structure. APA needs to be lean and efficient. The use of electronic communication and management capability is a must. Utilizing more of the expertise of our allied organizations can help our work and reduce costs. I will continue to work with the JRC and the Board to set clear organizational performance outcome measures. Transfer of membership from one district branch to another shouldn’t require six months! I’ll work with our central office staff to make APA friendlier to members.
• Strengthen educational and research institutions. I’ll strengthen the working relationship with chairs of departments of psychiatry and residency training directors so that we can recruit the best and brightest medical students into psychiatry. I’ll work to ensure that our training curricula will prepare the next generation of psychiatrists to practice in a competitive and culturally diverse environment. I’ll continue to strengthen our teaching and research endeavors on biological studies in areas of molecular genetics, brain imaging, and psychopharmacology. At the same time, I would support research on psychotherapy, psychosocial, and anthropological studies that will enhance our understanding of mental illness and care.
I have been honored to be your recorder. I have worked hard to advance APA’s strategic goals. We have restructured organizationally and charted a course to empower the operations and role of our district branches, state associations, and Area Councils. If elected Assembly speaker-elect, I will work hard to continue the initiatives we’ve made and to ensure that the Assembly remains a strong deliberative and legislative body. It will be a great honor and privilege for me to serve as your speaker-elect. I ask for your support. Thank you.