Attendees at a recent meeting for APA district branch and state association
(DB/SA) executives made it clear that they wanted additional tools to help
their organizations attract new members and retain existing ones and needed
funding to improve access to mental health care.
The 2006 Leadership Conference, held in November in Washington D.C.,
offered 42 DB/SA representatives information from experts on a range of issues
affecting their members. Subjects included tips for managing scope-of-practice
issues such as psychologist prescribing, lobbying, and methods for generating
positive publicity for their psychiatrist members.
The most popular sessions explored access-to-care concerns and addressed
efforts to recruit new DB members and retain current ones.
Those issues resonated with Paula Margulies, executive director of the San
Diego Psychiatric Society. San Diego psychiatrists, she said, often join that
DB looking to participate in the struggle to keep psychologist-prescribing
legislation from passing in the California legislature, where it has been
introduced multiple times. The DBs/SAs offer a way for psychiatrists to
organize on such key issues, establish relationships with legislators, and
develop a unified response, she said.
Paula Johnson of APA's Department of Government Relations leads a
session on access to care initiatives with district branch executives last
month in Washington, D.C. The session was part of the District Branch/State
Association Executive Staff Leadership Conference that preceded the Assembly's
fall meeting. See articles on pages 4 and 6.
Media training by APA staff provided insights the executives could share
with their members on how to communicate with representatives of different
types of media outlets and get their views across in the clearest and most
concise manner possible. APA staff who participated in the training urged
attendees to try to place as many informative articles and story ideas as
possible in their local media as a way to urge better mental health policy and
publicize district branch activities. Such placement, they pointed out, is
free and more credible to readers than advertising.
Laura Michaels, executive director of the Colorado Psychiatric Society,
was a key member of the planning committee for the DB/SA Executive Staff
Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., APA president-elect, told the DB/SA executives
that she will dedicate her presidential term to improving how psychiatry
communicates its message to the world. As one effective strategy, she
encouraged the executives to find personal stories of successful struggles
with mental illness to show the media that mental illness is real and that
there are real and effective treatments for it.
After the media training, Paige De Mille, executive director of the Utah
Psychiatric Association, said her office will benefit in particular from the
information on communication and media relations.
"The media training helped with the fear that we had to respond to
every call from any media outlet, instead of focusing on the important calls
that deal directly with us," De Mille said.
Now she will be able to help her DB develop a more strategic approach to
deciding where to place its limited resources, instead of taking on any worthy
project a member suggests.
"May be this way we can focus a little better and get more
done," she said.
The meeting also offered presentations and discussions on financing and
improving the DBs/SAs' non-duesrelated income. That issue was important to
Margulies, who described a "crisis" in funding as pharmaceutical
companies tightened their grant-making in recent years.
During a discussion of strategies to improve funding, Meagan Floyd,
executive director of the Maryland Psychiatric Society, described her office's
unusual ability to earn significant income from the publication of an annual
directory of its member physicians. The directories are free to members, but
they include paid ads and are sold to nonmember physicians and private
"It's tough to get grants now because all of the applications are
different, and the information they require varies a lot, so we're always
looking for alternate sources of income," Floyd said.
Other attendees said their DB/SA has decided to begin assessing late fees
for members who are late paying their dues and small fees for member events
that used to be free, such as CME sessions and dinners.
Discussions among the DB/SA executives also brought to light better ways in
which their offices could serve their members, such as regular queries asking
what types of information the members would like the office to provide. One
such request resulted in a popular small-business tax seminar for solo
Among efforts to expand membership, attendees were told to conduct outreach
to as many psychiatry residents as possible with the understanding that for
every 10 they contact, only one will become a member.
Conference organizers described this second DB/SA executives' conference as
a success and said they hope to hold such meetings every two years. ▪