Professional News
AAPA Works To Help Administrators Improve Care
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 7 page 30-81

An organization dedicated to the promotion of psychiatric leadership is seeking to expand its membership in order to enrich training and networking opportunities for psychiatric administrators.

The American Association of Psychiatric Administrators (AAPA) was established in 1961 as the Medical Superintendents of Mental Hospitals, and at that time the goal of the organization was to increase the number of psychiatric hospitals accredited by the then Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.

Times have changed, but the AAPA’s goals in 2004 remain no less important: to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and humanity of psychiatric services by promoting and strengthening the field of administrative psychiatry.

Thomas W. Hester, M.D., who is serving a two-year term as AAPA president, said the organization has enabled many psychiatrists to become certified in administrative psychiatry through its CME course on administrative psychiatry, developed in conjunction with APA’s Committee on Psychiatric Administration and Management. Hester is chief of Hawaii’s Adult Mental Health Division.

The two-day administrative psychiatry course is usually offered at APA’s annual meeting, but this year, according to Hester, committee members are revising the content of the course and plan to offer it next in 2005.

The AAPA is a small organization with 165 dues-paying members, but Hester said he would like to see the membership grow. "We invite other psychiatrists to join us," he remarked. The cost of membership is $75 a year.

"Our members range from trainees to internationally recognized experts who are involved in the administration of organizations," Hester told Psychiatric News.

The AAPA membership is diverse, he added, and includes members who work in solo practice as well as those who head large health care systems.

"Our members represent the public, private, and academic settings," he said.

Those who become AAPA members are eligible to receive its quarterly publication, Psychiatrist Administrator, which incorporates aspects of both a scientific journal and newsletter.

For instance, the "news journal" includes peer-reviewed articles and columns "that focus on the roles and perspectives of psychiatrists in leadership and management within evolving systems of care," according to the fall 2003 issue.

In one regular column, ethics expert H. Steven Moffic, M.D., addresses ethical issues encountered by psychiatrists working in the administrative field.

Articles cover topics such as negotiating the mental health system, for instance, or maximizing the benefits of peer-review and competency assessments in clinical settings.

Each year, AAPA leadership and members meet at APA’s annual meeting for a luncheon and presentation by a guest speaker.

At this year’s presentation, Bill Reid, M.D., co-author of the Handbook of Mental Health Administration and Management, is scheduled to give a lecture titled "Organization Liability for Clinical Staff Negligence: Beyond Respondent Superior" on Tuesday, May 4, at noon in the Uris Room of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

It is at these luncheons that members meet and share ideas with one another, Hester said. "I think the greatest value of the membership in the organization is the ability to form relationships and have the opportunity to engage in stimulating and challenging discussions with other psychiatrists who have many years of experience in diverse administrative settings," he added.

From 1995 to 2001 Hester chaired the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors’ Medical Director’s Council.

More information about the AAPA is posted online at www.psychiatricadministrators.org or can be obtained by contacting Executive Director Frances Roton at (800) 650-5888.

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