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From the President
Many Challenges Met, but Many Lie Ahead
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 9 page 3-3

As this is being written, I have completed 11 months as APA president, and it is traditional to sum up some of the highlights of the presidential year as that year draws to a close. I have enjoyed the work, especially the opportunity to meet and interact with so many members nationwide, and appreciate their critiques, suggestions, and contributions to the work of our Association, as well as their feedback, both positive and negative, on these columns. My thanks also to all of our members who volunteer their expertise and time locally and nationally to improve the lives of those who suffer from mental illness and to advance our profession. I am grateful to all who followed my exhortations and put their voice into action for their patients and our profession and look forward to your continued efforts.

Being APA president is a mixture of opportunities and challenges; power is limited, and the term is relatively short. In addition to the more symbolic opportunities, presidents can set themes and agendas and work to support them, recommend and appoint member committees to address priority tasks, and work with staff to implement directions. We do not fade into the proverbial sunset; past presidents are encouraged to provide wise counsel and support the next generation of leaders, as well as nurture our presidential initiatives to completion. We hope that our positive impact can be measured in the results of these efforts. At the same time, every president learns that the strength of APA is measured not in terms of any president's accomplishments, but through a combination of membership involvement, quality and commitment of elected leaders, and dedicated staff.

My theme, "Our Voice in Action," addresses this confluence of efforts. "Our Voice" is singular—whatever our diverse personal or professional interests—and we cannot be effective without uniting with a single, strong voice. Additionally, to be successful, we must go beyond good ideas and put our knowledge, skills, and values into deeds. We must address our many publics: other physicians and other health and mental health providers; national and local policymakers (for example, legislators, the administration); the media; patient advocacy organizations; community, school, and religious groups; ethnic minorities; communities of color; and the public at large. There is strength in numbers. Member buy-in and communication internally are vital. Our newly updated Web site at<www.psych.org>, as well as Psychiatric News (accessible online at<pn.psychiatryonline.org>) provide a wealth of information about all that APA does for our members, as well as professional and clinical information and resources that assist in patient care. Please let us know how we can improve and make these resources as useful as possible for you. Even an investment of five minutes a day in them will keep you up to date on developments impacting psychiatry and enhance your clinical practice.

This year, one of my first priorities was strengthening our organizational functioning. We did some longer-range planning prior to the Board's summer" retreat" assisted by an organizational consultant, Dr Michael Gallery. We considered the "Seven Measures of Success" (Psychiatric News, January 18) as we worked to become a truly remarkable and effective organization. We addressed the role of elected leaders and the organizational responsibility of Board members, how our governance differs from a representational government, and the importance of the Board's working as a unified whole. We also focused on our advocacy efforts—such as public affairs and government relations—a focus that has continued successfully throughout the year. Additionally, we reviewed our mission. While APA works for our patients and their access to the highest quality patient care, we must focus on our members. APA is the only organization that represents all psychiatrists.

During this past year, I met with representatives of psychiatric subspecialty organizations; academia; and other medical, mental health, and patient advocacy groups. Psychiatry has been visible in the media for good causes, as well as in response to tragic events. We are more frequently and positively cited in the media, and it appears that the House and Senate continue toward taking significant legislative action on mental health parity by the end of this year. We continue to interact with the business community addressing the importance of good mental health care on workplace productivity and the bottom line. We have begun work with our military colleagues and volunteer organizations to address the needs of returning military and their families. I will continue the initiative with the American Heart Association to include depression as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (Psychiatric News, April 4).

Many challenges remain: appropriate reimbursement for care, elimination of stigma, confidentiality and privacy, research funding, scope of practice, relationships with industry, and the impact of antipsychiatry groups. The upcoming U.S. presidential election will provide a focus on health care system change, and we must participate.

Special thanks are due Jim Krajeski, Cathy Brown, and the Psychiatric News staff for superb editorial input and support, and much appreciation to Jay Scully and so many other staff whose work enhanced my presidential term, our Association, our profession, and our patients. ▪

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