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Association News
DB, Minority Leaders Report From the Field
Psychiatric News
Volume 37 Number 19 page 10-10

Communication between the district branches and APA’s central office has improved considerably over the last year, but district branches continue to search for ways to stem the hemorrhaging of their membership rosters. That was the message two district branch presidents conveyed to APA’s Board of Trustees at its meeting last month in Washington, D.C.

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Dina Sokal, M.D. (right), president of the Maryland Psychiatric Society, tells APA Trustees about the problems her district branch faces in recruiting and retaining members and of plans to reverse the trend. Looking on is Ana Campo, M.D., who addressed the Board as chair of the Committee of Hispanic Psychiatrists.

In keeping with its tradition of inviting two or three district branch leaders and the chair of a committee representing minority and underrepresented psychiatrists, the Board invited David Markowitz, M.D., president of the Psychiatric Society of Virginia; Dina Sokal, M.D., president of the Maryland Psychiatric Society; and Ana Campo, M.D., chair of the Committee of Hispanic Psychiatrists, to discuss issues with which they and the psychiatrists they represent are grappling.

Markowitz noted that the steps that APA has taken to improve its communication with district branches over membership and dues billings are paying off, and Sokal said that her organization is also pleased with the enhancements.

Markowitz, who addressed the Board via speakerphone, also thanked the Trustees for the funds they provided that allowed the Virginia district branch to hire a lobbyist to focus on state scope-of-practice and parity issues. In addition, he pointed out that the state’s psychiatrists and the patients they treat are facing a serious shortage of psychiatric hospital beds and a lack of state funds to help low-income patients buy psychiatric medications. State officials are considering joining the growing roster of states that impose a drug formulary on the Medicaid program, he noted.

Difficulty in recruiting and retaining members is a particularly vexing problem for the district branch, he said. More and more young psychiatrists are choosing to begin their careers in community psychiatry or at Veterans Administration facilities rather than going into private practice, and they "don’t feel APA has enough to offer" to justify the dues they would have to pay, Markowitz emphasized.

In Maryland, member recruitment is also a critical issue, Sokal stated. With a troubling loss of about 10 to 12 members each year, the district branch is focusing its efforts on convincing residents of the value of membership and has instituted a mentoring program as part of that outreach. The district branch’s CME committee has also succeeded in increasing attendance at educational sessions by planning "more creative meetings," she said.

She noted as well that Maryland psychiatrists are on high alert regarding a possible bill in the state legislature to grant psychologists the right to prescribe psychoactive drugs.

Campo, who also chairs the Assembly Committee of Representatives of Minority/Underrepresented Groups, told the Trustees that she appreciates that minority/underrepresented psychiatrists have been included in the recently revamped APA component structure, but that she would like to see a mandate ensuring that every component has one of these representatives. This is the best way "to make sure that ideas and concerns of minority psychiatrists are heard," Campo said.

She pointed out that key concerns of minority psychiatrists are the difficulty they experience when trying to advance in academic and research careers and gain membership on managed care provider panels. ▪

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Dina Sokal, M.D. (right), president of the Maryland Psychiatric Society, tells APA Trustees about the problems her district branch faces in recruiting and retaining members and of plans to reverse the trend. Looking on is Ana Campo, M.D., who addressed the Board as chair of the Committee of Hispanic Psychiatrists.

In keeping with its tradition of inviting two or three district branch leaders and the chair of a committee representing minority and underrepresented psychiatrists, the Board invited David Markowitz, M.D., president of the Psychiatric Society of Virginia; Dina Sokal, M.D., president of the Maryland Psychiatric Society; and Ana Campo, M.D., chair of the Committee of Hispanic Psychiatrists, to discuss issues with which they and the psychiatrists they represent are grappling.

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