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Association News
Board Renews Scully's Contract, Hears Message From Future
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 21 page 16-32

In a promising sign for APA's future, APA Trustees hear about PsychSIGN from medical students who have been instrumental in establishing the network for the next generation of psychiatrists.

The APA Board of Trustees voted in executive session at its meeting in New York last month to award James H. Scully Jr., M.D., the Association's medical director and CEO, with a seven-year renewal of his contract. He has been medical director for four years.

Commenting on the contract extension, APA President Pedro Ruiz, M.D., noted, “Dr. Scully has not only kept the budget balanced but has made sure that APA has ended each year with a surplus. This has allowed APA to put more than $600,000 into its reserves each year. He has also been able to increase APA membership in each year since he became medical director. We are confident that he will help APA achieve its goals over the next several years.”

In addition, the Board members expressed considerable enthusiasm after hearing a presentation by medical students who have already decided that psychiatry is the career they want to pursue.

Two of these students, Jeanne Goodman of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Jonathan Arniel of Columbia University, discussed a one-year-old organization called PsychSIGN (the Psychiatry Student Interest Group Network). They noted that the group, of which Goodman is chair, is divided into the same seven geographic Areas as APA and has a coordinator in each of them.

PsychSIGN's goals are to link students interested in psychiatry at medical schools throughout the United States and Canada, offer career guidance including residency information, foster medical student “wellness” through a strong support network to which students can turn when the going gets tough, and encourage public service and advocacy to improve mental health care.

PsychSIGN, which now has representation from 60 medical schools, had its first national conference in conjunction with the APA annual meeting in May in Toronto. There have also been regional conferences in Boston and New York, Arniel noted, each attracting about 25 medical students.

Information about PsychSIGN is posted online at<www.psychsign.org>.

Trustees also took action on a wide range of issues. They voted to

  • Approve a change to the APA Bylaws that would make the speaker-elect of the Assembly a voting member of the Board of Trustees.  This item now goes to the Assembly for a vote. The speaker-elect has been an ex officio Board member.

  • Reject a proposal to add the immediate past speaker of the Assembly as a voting member of the Board.  Several members voiced the opinion that with the speaker-elect about to join the speaker as a voting member of the Board, there was opportunity for Assembly input into Board discussions without adding the past speaker. There was also concern about further expanding the size of the Board just a few years after two positions—secretary and one of two vice presidents—were eliminated.

  • Distribute $277,000 to district branches and state associations as part of the Association's competitive grant program.  Twenty-three district branches and state associations—out of 33 that applied—will receive grants this year. They range from $1,500 to $25,000. The criteria used to evaluate grant proposals include the significance of the proposed activities to the district branch, their relevance to APA's strategic plan, appropriate documentation about activities and use of the funds, impact of the projects on membership recruitment and retention, and inclusion of innovative approaches to public affairs, education, or other related initiatives.

  • Reject a proposal to raise annual meeting registration fees for APA members  by $50, but approve a registration-fee increase of $20 for nonmembers.

  • Endorse the “direction” of the Pediatric Psychiatry Residency Pilot Project,  an “integrated program in general and child/adolescent psychiatry” that takes three years and trains pediatricians to “address the spectrum of mental and emotional illnesses that encompasses developmental psychopathology in new-borns, children, adolescents, and adults. The Residency Review Committee for Psychiatry will have to accredit such a program and is scheduled to discuss it at its next meeting.

  • Approve the Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  The new guideline includes disclosures regarding potential conflicts of interest by members of the work group that developed the guideline. All practice guideline development participants must disclose the percentage of gross income derived directly or indirectly from work for a drug or medical-device company, the name of such companies, the nature of the work performed, and whether work for a particular company accounts for more the 5 percent of the participant's gross income.

  • Increase by $10,000 each the amount of the honoraria for members serving as APA president, president-elect, Assembly speaker, and Assembly speakerelect.  This came on a recommendation from the Ad Hoc Work Group on Officer Compensation, which had interviewed current and former officers on this issue. The work group concluded that the increases were justified based on “revenue that the officer would lose” due to the extensive time demands and out-of-town travel required of APA's top officers. The work group pointed out that these honoraria are reported to the Internal Revenue Service and are taxable. Officers are reimbursed for travel expenses in addition to the honoraria.

  • Sign on to two amicus curiae briefs challenging state laws that bar same-sex marriage.  The suits have been filed in Maryland and Connecticut by the American Psychological Association. The Maryland suit is Deane v. Conway ; the Connecticut suit is Kerrigan v. State . The Committee on Judicial Action and Council on Psychiatry and Law, which submitted the proposal to the Board, did not request a financial contribution in conjunction with the briefs.

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  • Approve a change to the APA Bylaws that would make the speaker-elect of the Assembly a voting member of the Board of Trustees. This item now goes to the Assembly for a vote. The speaker-elect has been an ex officio Board member.

  • Reject a proposal to add the immediate past speaker of the Assembly as a voting member of the Board. Several members voiced the opinion that with the speaker-elect about to join the speaker as a voting member of the Board, there was opportunity for Assembly input into Board discussions without adding the past speaker. There was also concern about further expanding the size of the Board just a few years after two positions—secretary and one of two vice presidents—were eliminated.

  • Distribute $277,000 to district branches and state associations as part of the Association's competitive grant program. Twenty-three district branches and state associations—out of 33 that applied—will receive grants this year. They range from $1,500 to $25,000. The criteria used to evaluate grant proposals include the significance of the proposed activities to the district branch, their relevance to APA's strategic plan, appropriate documentation about activities and use of the funds, impact of the projects on membership recruitment and retention, and inclusion of innovative approaches to public affairs, education, or other related initiatives.

  • Reject a proposal to raise annual meeting registration fees for APA members by $50, but approve a registration-fee increase of $20 for nonmembers.

  • Endorse the “direction” of the Pediatric Psychiatry Residency Pilot Project, an “integrated program in general and child/adolescent psychiatry” that takes three years and trains pediatricians to “address the spectrum of mental and emotional illnesses that encompasses developmental psychopathology in new-borns, children, adolescents, and adults. The Residency Review Committee for Psychiatry will have to accredit such a program and is scheduled to discuss it at its next meeting.

  • Approve the Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The new guideline includes disclosures regarding potential conflicts of interest by members of the work group that developed the guideline. All practice guideline development participants must disclose the percentage of gross income derived directly or indirectly from work for a drug or medical-device company, the name of such companies, the nature of the work performed, and whether work for a particular company accounts for more the 5 percent of the participant's gross income.

  • Increase by $10,000 each the amount of the honoraria for members serving as APA president, president-elect, Assembly speaker, and Assembly speakerelect. This came on a recommendation from the Ad Hoc Work Group on Officer Compensation, which had interviewed current and former officers on this issue. The work group concluded that the increases were justified based on “revenue that the officer would lose” due to the extensive time demands and out-of-town travel required of APA's top officers. The work group pointed out that these honoraria are reported to the Internal Revenue Service and are taxable. Officers are reimbursed for travel expenses in addition to the honoraria.

  • Sign on to two amicus curiae briefs challenging state laws that bar same-sex marriage. The suits have been filed in Maryland and Connecticut by the American Psychological Association. The Maryland suit is Deane v. Conway; the Connecticut suit is Kerrigan v. State. The Committee on Judicial Action and Council on Psychiatry and Law, which submitted the proposal to the Board, did not request a financial contribution in conjunction with the briefs.

  • The Board also heard a presentation from Ting-Kai Li, M.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Li presented recent statistics showing how extensive alcohol abuse is among various age groups; the extent to which health, personal, and social problems can be traced to alcohol abuse; and characteristics of subtypes of alcoholics. He also described treatments for alcohol disorders and research that is beginning to uncover their origins.

    A summary of actions the Board took at its October meeting can be accessed in the Members Corner area of APA's Web site at<www.psych.org> under “Board of Trustees.”

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