Jo-Ellyn = experience, enthusiasm, and energy. Because I believe that psychiatry is part of the house of medicine, my experience includes positions in leadership in the Missouri State Medical Association (MSMA), the American Medical Women’s Association, and the AMA; I am chair of the APA Bylaws Committee, vice chair of the AMA Council on Constitution and Bylaws, a delegate to the AMA from Missouri, and MSMA parliamentarian. After serving as the representative from Eastern Missouri Psychiatric Society, I am the deputy representative of Area 4.
Each year I visit Jefferson City, Mo., to lobby legislators about bills that affect medicine. Because of return visits, they know my first name.
My enthusiasm in organized medicine began when I joined Eastern Missouri Psychiatric Society (EMPS) as a member-in-training. I was appointed program chair and elected president of EMPS. I chaired the Insurance Committee in the early days of managed care, and I learned how little people knew about mental illness. Since 1986 I have been co-chair of the Mental Illness Awareness Coalition of Metropolitan St. Louis, which educates the public about mental illness.
My energy helps me maintain a solo private practice, teach medical students at Washington University in St. Louis as an associate professor of clinical psychiatry, serve as a board examiner in psychiatry, and lecture to primary care physicians about treatments for mental illnesses. Love of adventure had me traveling to Alaska, where I caught a big, 65-pound king salmon last year. In the past I worked in state-funded inpatient and outpatient settings.
I have lived in St. Louis since medical school. I was born and raised in New Jersey. I brought my mother to St. Louis three years ago so I could supervise her care in her nursing home. In my spare time I travel and play duplicate bridge.
Our Assembly is the most democratic and representative body in our American Psychiatric Association. It can and will give voice to our passions and our frustrations. The role of recorder is to keep us on track by recording the proceedings and the votes and tracking the progress of action papers. With my experience I can assist the speaker and speaker-elect in guiding the deliberations of the Assembly. The reference committees have allowed all our Assembly members to deliberate on papers and hopefully allow the editing to occur in the appropriate reference committee report and not on the floor of the Assembly. The Area Councils provide caucuses that can further deliberate on the business and provide camaraderie.
We have looked inward. There has been much discussion in past years about what is the proper size of the Assembly. What can we do within our Bylaws and Procedures to ensure that we continue to get new members? Much of this discussion has been entertained because the budget is getting smaller and membership numbers are dropping. We need to harness the energy and enthusiasm of our members to keep our Assembly active. We need to stand strong and united. Psychiatrists will join a relevant organization.
It is time to look outward. Access to nondiscriminatory health care is one of our top priorities. Adequate funding for this access is mandatory. Convincing legislators that treatment for mental illness is the right thing to do in times of overwhelming deficits and elections is a challenge. The missions of APA are to advocate for our patients; to advocate for the profession; to support education, training, and career development; to define and support professional values; and to enhance the scientific basis of psychiatric care.
One of the most important missions we have as psychiatrists is to advocate for our patients and those who cannot advocate for themselves. As public affairs representative of the EMPS, I spoke at Mental Health Association meetings and to NAMI audiences, hospital auxiliaries, and community groups about mental illnesses. For two years, I was the guest of "Your Mental Health," a weekly segment on our NBC-TV affiliate. In addition to educating the public, we need to inform our legislators about mental illness and the impact of not treating these patients. They need to know the difference between psychiatrists and those who would imitate us. The Missouri legislators know me on a first-name basis because I go to Jefferson City regularly to advocate for our patients. I help educate our legislators during the annual Mental Health Awareness Day. APA needs a strong PAC. We need to get the attention of our state and federal legislators so that they will ask us for information about mental illness. In this election year it is particularly important to cultivate friends in Congress and our state legislatures. It is especially important to have friends in the legislature when we ask for adequate funding for mental health and training programs in a fiscally tight budget. If we advocate for our patients, we will advocate for our profession. Quality care mandates nondiscriminatory health care, access to care, properly trained doctors prescribing medications, reasonable budgets for state departments of mental health, and tort reform so doctors will be there to treat our patients.
With my experience in public affairs and in other organizations, I am ready to help lead our Assembly for the coming year. With your vote, I can be part of the team.
Please ask your representatives to vote for Ryall for recorder. Thank you for your support. ▪