For the second year in a row, psychiatry has gained an important seat on
one of the AMA's influential policy-making
Child and adolescent psychiatrist Louis Kraus, M.D., won election by a wide
margin to the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health (CSPH). Kraus, a
member of the Section Council on Psychiatry representing the American Academy
of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is chief of child and adolescent
psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., was reelected speaker of the AMA House of
Credit: Mark Moran
In addition, psychiatrist Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., was reelected speaker of
the House of Delegates in an uncontested election. In that role, he presides
over the meetings of the house.
The CSPH provides information and recommendations on medical, scientific,
and public-health issues. For instance, at this year's meeting the CSPH issued
reports on substance use and substance use disorders, portable listening
devices and noise-induced hearing loss, in-school care for children with
diabetes, the health effects of high-fructose syrup, and the clinical utility
of measuring body mass index and waist circumference in the management of
In an upcoming house meeting, the CSPH has promised to produce a report on
the use of Tasers by law-enforcement officials and others and the potential
risks associated with these devices, especially when used on people with
mental illness (see Psychiatry-Related Issues Prominent on AMA Agenda).
Election to one of the AMA's councils—of which there are only seven,
with 11 or 12 members each, chosen from a House of Delegates comprising some
550 physicians—requires the candidate to run a gauntlet of interviews
with state and specialty delegations and caucuses and depends on a network of
support throughout those delegations.
John McIntyre, M.D., chair of the Section Council on Psychiatry, noted that
candidates typically have to run more than once before they have enough name
recognition; Kraus won in his first effort. "This is a major victory for
psychiatry and child psychiatry," he said.
Child psychiatrist Louis Kraus, M.D. (second from left), was elected
last month to the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health. From left are
Saul Levin, M.D., who helped lead Kraus's election campaign; Kraus; David
Fassler, M.D., vice chair of the Section Council on Psychiatry; Nada Stotland,
M.D., president of APA; and psychiatrist Shastri Swaminathan, M.D., president
of the Illinois State Medical Society. In addition to Kraus's election,
psychiatrist Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., was reelected as speaker of the House of
Delegates in an uncontested election. Not pictured is section council member
Jeffrey Akaka, M.D., who also helped with Kraus's campaign.
Credit: Mark Moran
McIntyre and other APA leaders active in the AMA say Kraus' election is
evidence of psychiatry's growing influence within mainstream organized
medicine. In addition to Kraus, there is now at least one psychiatrist serving
on six of the AMA's seven governing councils. They are McIntyre, who serves on
the Council on Medical Service; Stuart Gitlow, M.D., Council on Science and
Public Health; Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., Council on Science and Public Health
(of which she became chair this year); Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., Council on
Constitution and Bylaws; Patrice Harris, M.D., Council on Legislation; Saul
Levin, M.D., Council on Long-Range Planning and Development; and Dudley
Stewart Jr., M.D., Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs.
In an interview with Psychiatric News, Kraus expressed his thanks
to the entire psychiatric delegation for a "team effort" in his
election. "What is most important is that we are getting to express a
voice for psychiatry and child psychiatry and for our patients," he told
Psychiatric News. "To add an understanding of child and
adolescent health and mental health is going to be a core component of my work
on the council."
APA President Nada Stotland, M.D., an alternate delegate to the Section
Council on Psychiatry, acknowledged the extraordinarily competitive nature of
AMA House of Delegates elections and the prominent role the AMA plays in
"APA members have many different feelings about the AMA and its
policies," she said. "The fact remains that the AMA represents the
voice of medicine to Congress, the administration, and government
bureaucracies. So the steadily increasing representation of psychiatrists in
AMA leadership positions is important. The AMA has only seven councils, and
elected places on those councils are coveted and highly competitive. Dr.
Kraus's election demonstrates the trust the members of the AMA House of
Delegates place in him and their recognition of the importance of psychiatry
in deliberations about science and public health. We look forward to hearing
from Dr. Kraus about the issues and discussions within the council and to
bringing him APA issues and perspectives for inclusion in those
David Fassler, M.D., vice chair of the Section Council on Psychiatry, said,"
Louis's election to the AMA Council on Science and Public Health is a
real accomplishment. It underscores the growing influence of and respect for
psychiatry within the House of Delegates. As a member of the council, he will
be able to influence AMA reports and policies that are directly relevant to
our members and their patients." ▪