Graduates of the American Psychiatric Leadership Fellowship, the oldest
fellowship program at APA, have set out to raise funds to continue the
program's operation after pharmaceutical maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) withdrew
its financial support two years ago.
Since 1968 the fellowship has introduced more than 500 residents to
organized psychiatry and trained them in leadership skills.
"The fellowship is a priceless experience, especially early in one's
career," said Leah Dickstein, M.D., a former chair of the fellowship's
selection committee and a professor emerita at the University of
The economic downturn led GSK to shift its priorities, said Alison
Bondurant, associate director of APA's Office of Minority and National
Affairs. "GSK moved away from funding non-CME programs like fellowships
in order to focus on physician education."
Attending the annual reunion/reception for American Psychiatric
Leadership fellows were (from left) Sheldon Benjamin, M.D., a professor of
psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and former
fellowship committee member; fellows Stacey Burpee, D.O., of the University of
Massachusetts; M. Justin Coffey, M.D., of the University of Michigan; and
Mohammad Alsuwaidan, M.D., of the University of Toronto.
Credit: Ellen Dallager
Corporate support for fellowships throughout the medical world has been
declining lately. However, with the help of the American Psychiatric
Foundation, alumni of the fellowship have begun trying to raise the $100,000
needed each year to keep the program
Until GSK ended its grant, the fellowship selected 10 residents each year
for a two-year program. Fellows met with the leaders of APA, took part in
committee work, and visited congressional offices on trips to Washington, D.C.
One fellow in each class took part in APA Board of Trustees meetings, and
another worked with the APA Assembly.
"I had the chance to meet residents from other programs as well as
the leadership of APA," said Keith Stowell, M.D., a 2006-2008 fellow and
now a postdoctoral fellow at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in
Pittsburgh. Gaining professional leadership skills was not the only benefit,
he said. Learning how to work in groups during his fellowship years helped
Stowell deal with difficult situations that arose during his time as a chief
Fellows also develop and carry out a research project. Stowell's fellowship
class surveyed psychiatry residents around the country to examine how
pregnancy affects both female and male psychiatrists during residency. They
presented the results first at the APA annual meeting in 2007 and then to a
meeting of psychiatric training directors.
The subsequent class surveyed safety training programs in psychiatric
settings, said Yael Dvir, M.D., a fellow when she was a resident at the
University of Massachusetts in Worcester and now an assistant professor there.
Dvir said that she valued the chance to meet colleagues from around the
country in her areas of interest—child psychiatry and developmental
disabilities—through the fellowship program.
"Working on the class project teaches you how to get your ideas
across to other people," she said. "And you learn to see the
potential of good ideas in other people who may just need a little
encouragement to bring them out."
Continued funding to support the fellowship was a very worthwhile
investment in the future of the profession, she said.
To conserve existing funds, only five fellows were selected for the
2009-2010 class, and they will attend the annual meeting only in 2010, instead
of both years.
This current class has been exploring the philanthropic interests of
foundations, corporations, program alumni, and the APA Board of Trustees as
part of its research project. They gave that information to the foundation,
which has the authority within APA for fundraising.
"The membership should be willing to contribute in some small way to
fund the program," Dickstein noted.
Contributors so far (all former fellows) are James Welton Lomax, M.D.,
Christine Truman, M.D., Keith Stowell, M.D., Tana Grady-Weliky, M.D., Albert
John Allen, M.D., Ph.D., and Katharine Phillips, M.D.
Contributions to support the fellowship may be sent to the American
Psychiatric Foundation, c/o American Psychiatric Leadership Fellowship, 1000
Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825, Arlington, Va. 22209. ▪