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Association News
Minority Psychiatrists Urge APA to Keep Collaborations Strong
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 13 page 16-16

Leaders of the APA Asssembly's minority and underrepresented (MUR) caucuses and allied organizations shared the history and work of their respective groups during APA's 2009 annual meeting in San Francisco and expressed concerns about their groups' future representation in and collaboration with APA. The roundtable meeting was hosted by outgoing APA President Nada Stotland, M.D., M.P.H.

Among the attendees at the meeting were Brian Benton, M.D., of the Caucus of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Psychiatrists; Rahn Bailey, M.D., and Stephen McLeod-Bryant, M.D., of the Caucus of Black Psychiatrists; Gail Robinson, M.D., of the Caucus on Women; Mark Townsend, M.D., of the Caucus on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues; and Paul Yeung, M.D., of the Caucus of Asian-American Psychiatrists.

"[APA leaders] have to pay attention to why we need these other organizations," said Stotland.

According to AMA data, women make up 34 percent of U.S. psychiatrists. Blacks make up 3 percent of the specialty, Asians 13 percent, Native-Americans 0.1 percent, and Hispanics/Latinos 5 percent. The latest APA data available in May showed that the membership was 13.6 percent Asian, 3.6 percent black, 5.2 percent Hispanic, and 0.3 percent American-Indian psychiatrists, according to APA's Office of Minority and National Affairs. Women account for 35.2 percent of APA members.

At the roundtable, most caucus representatives expressed concerns about the sunsetting of the committees under the APA Council on Minority Mental Health and Health Disparities at the end of the annual meeting and questioned whether it would result in diminished representation of MUR psychiatrists and priorities within APA. FIG1

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Outgoing APA President Nada Stotland, M.D., hosts an annual meeting discussion with psychiatrists representing APA's minority and underrepresented group caucuses and allied organizations whose members are minority psychiatrists. She emphasized that APA's commitment to including minorities in policy discussions will not wane. 

Credit: David Hathcox

Stotland pointed out that committees were appointed by APA presidents-elect and did not always represent their constituency's interests. Caucus leaders, however, can directly voice the concerns of the members they represent. Going forward, identity caucuses should take a much larger role in governance than before and focus on two types of activities, according to Stotland. The first would be "to produce something ... to do tasks, which can be done without having committees." With a defined goal, a group of task-force members, and a deadline, things can be done more efficiently. The other function would be "to think of things we need to do," to help APA identify priorities for the benefit of each caucus's constituents.

Attending the roundtable were representatives from allied organizations, including the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists, Association of Women Psychiatrists (AWP), Indo-American Psychiatric Association, Black Psychiatrists of America, Association of Korean-American Psychiatrists, American Society of Hispanic Psychiatrists, and Association of Chinese-American Psychiatrists. Each group's representatives recounted the rich history of their organization and the services provided to their members, many of whom are also APA members but often feel their interests and issues are not well represented by APA. All of the organizations work closely with APA's MUR caucuses and committees to advance the interests of their members and MUR psychiatrists in general.

"Having been part of the allied organization has focused me on Hispanic issues," said Theresa Miskimen, M.D., who represented the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatrists. In 1986, the society was formed because a group of Hispanic psychiatrists felt that "APA was big ... [It] did not, and could not, address the issues of all the specific constituents."

Many allied organizations have a robust international membership, which brings together minority psychiatrists in the United States and practicing psychiatrists around the globe.

At the roundtable all representatives reiterated their organizations' plan to continue to collaborate with APA on matters ranging from advocacy for underrepresented populations to recruiting and retaining members. Some voiced frustration in recruiting young practitioners to join their organizations as well as APA.

"We [women psychiatrists] need as much representation as possible," said Tana Grady-Welicky, M.D., president of the AWP, which has a long tradition of working with APA caucuses and committees and strives to "enhance and promote women psychiatrists' leadership skills," she explained.

Despite financial challenges, APA will continue to support the staff and services devoted to MUR groups and issues, Stotland assured the participants. She emphasized that many of APA's priorities, such as parity, equitable Medicare reimbursement, and psychologist-prescribing legislation, are in line with the needs and concerns of MUR psychiatrists.

APA members can access the current APA component structure at<www.psych.org/Resources/Governance/Component-Restructure-Grid--April-2009.aspx>.

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Outgoing APA President Nada Stotland, M.D., hosts an annual meeting discussion with psychiatrists representing APA's minority and underrepresented group caucuses and allied organizations whose members are minority psychiatrists. She emphasized that APA's commitment to including minorities in policy discussions will not wane. 

Credit: David Hathcox

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