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The Medical Director's Desk
Advancing Our Profession Through Annual Meetings Department
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 20 page 4-4

FIG1 The APA Annual Meetings Department continues to support our goal of advancing the profession of psychiatry through improvements in the annual meeting, Institute on Psychiatric Services, and governance meetings.

The most recent accomplishments of this department's staff are reflected in the statistics from APA's 2004 annual meeting—it was the largest meeting held to date. Registration for this meeting, which was held May 1 to 6 in New York City, reached 26,728, surpassing the 21,363 registrants for the 2003 meeting. This total included 8,021 members (6,607 in 2003); 13,355 nonmembers (10,272 in 2003), of whom 2,401 were spouses, family members, and guests (1,921 in 2003); 4,873 exhibitors; 323 members of the media; and 156 staff members. It also included 8,974 international registrants (6,570 in 2003), of whom 1,131 were members (886 in 2003) and 7,843 nonmembers (5,684 in 2003).

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With an average yearly attendance of 21,000 at the annual meeting and 2,000 at the institute, it is important that the registration process run smoothly. No one likes long lines and wasted time. For this past May's meeting, the Annual Meetings Department rolled out a new, fully automated, Web-based online registration system. Meeting participants appeared to embrace the new system—online registration increased from 38 percent of attendees in 2003 to 58 percent in 2004. The value of the new system was also evidenced once attendees arrived in New York: more than 16,000 registrants were processed on the first day of the meeting, with an average wait time of only three to eight minutes.

The new registration system is only one of the ways the Annual Meetings Department has worked to improve service to members. Another new member benefit is the self-service registration kiosks, where preregistered members can register on their own. By using these kiosks, members avoid having to wait in line at the general registration booths.

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An online submission system is being developed for presenters for the 2005 annual meeting and institute. This will ease the submission process for presenters by giving them the capability to submit proposals online. Also, peer review and rating of the proposals will be conducted online, eliminating much of the paperwork normally associated with the process and further reducing costs related to the annual meeting.

Members and staff who traveled to the 2004 institute, which took place at the Atlanta Hilton earlier this month, were able to preview the host city of the 2005 annual meeting. The institute's theme, "Mental Health Disparities in the Community," addressed the mental health needs of vulnerable, disenfranchised, and difficult-to-serve patients. (Coverage of the institute will begin in the next issue of Psychiatric News.)

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Next spring, we'll return to Atlanta with a significantly larger group for the 158th annual meeting, which will be held May 21 to May 26." Psychosomatic Medicine—Integrating Medicine and Psychiatry" is the theme, and an excellent scientific program is now being put together. There will be a wealth of information on research advances and clinical wisdom on the interface between medicine and psychiatry. Topics such as health services and outcomes; patho-physiology of disease processes; and psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and other interventions will be addressed in a wide array of formats and presentations by world-renowned experts.

When members are not attending scientific sessions, they will enjoy exploring the new Atlanta. Since APA last met in Atlanta back in 1978, the city has blossomed into a popular convention destination known for its world-class attractions and activities, with something for every age group and interest. From arts and cultural events to festive nightlife and sports outings, there are more than 200 Atlanta attractions from which to choose.

For example, visitors can enjoy concerts and plays at the Atlanta Symphony Hall and Fox Theater. To get a taste of sports and outdoor adventure Southern style, there are the Atlanta Skydiving Center, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Georgia International Horse Park, and SummerGrove Golf Club. Changing gears, visitors can sample some of life's finer offerings at the Chateau Elan Winery and Resort. Other popular attractions are Centennial Olympic Park, World of Coca-Cola, Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Kangaroo Conservation Center, and the CNN Studio Tour.

A major regional event that will take place during the week of the annual meeting is the fair "Stars Under the Southern Skies: A Tribute to the Red, White, and Blue," to take place at the Grand Prix Plaza and Stadium. It will relive the "fair of yesteryear" and feature stars from all walks of life.

More information on Atlanta attractions and events is posted online at<www.atlanta.net/visitors/index.asp>. Members can also go to APA's Web site at<www.psych.org/edu/ann_mtgs/am/05/index.cfm> and click on "Atlanta Attractions" and "Leisure Time Activities."

An important aspect of APA's mission is to advance and represent the profession of psychiatry and serve the professional needs of our membership. The Annual Meetings Department helps support APA in that mission by providing tools through the annual meeting, the institute, and governance meetings, which help members grow in leadership and excel professionally.

APA is able to offer members an exceptional annual meeting experience through quick and easy registration, current scientific programs, lower registration fees, early registration, CME courses, and convenient lodging available as a result of our Annual Meetings Department working hard for you. We can demonstrate our appreciation of their service improvements by showing up in full force at the next annual meeting. I look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!

Please forward your comments and suggestions to me at medicaldirector@psych.org.▪

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