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From the President
You've Heard It Before: Your Vote Does Matter
Psychiatric News
Volume 45 Number 23 page 6-6

Please vote! As the special election section of this issue tells you (see APA Election 2011), it's time once again for APA members to select their next leaders. All APA members with a valid e-mail address on file will receive a link to their personalized electronic ballot on December 22; other members will receive a paper ballot. Votes must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern time on February 7, 2011.

The election cycle is an important time of year for APA. I know that many of you are "election saturated" and that it is difficult to feel that your one vote matters. But as our recent national elections demonstrate, one vote absolutely matters, and I urge you not to allow frustrations from November 2 to translate into apathy about APA.

Organized medicine is at an important crossroads as we enter an era in which health care reform and parity are being implemented. For the first time in our nation's history, most Americans will have access to affordable, effective health care through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and those suffering from mental illness, including substance abuse disorders, have the same right to treatment as those suffering from other diseases. Despite the naysayers, while funding for some provisions of the new law may be delayed, the principles are finally in place.

This is a critically important time for medicine in general and psychiatry in particular. As we enter into the process of electing our officers and trustees, I urge you to think seriously about voting for those who you feel will best represent our Association in the years ahead. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to be in a leadership position and look forward to continuing to collaborate with those who will guide APA through these challenging times in the future.

We have a diverse slate of talented and experienced candidates. Ask yourself what type of person in each contest would best represent psychiatry at this point. Will this candidate put aside personal issues or views to consider the good of the Association and to carry out its policies? Will this candidate be open and available to the membership? Will this candidate devote the time and energy needed to be an effective leader? Will this candidate represent us well in work with policymakers as well as with other physicians? Will this candidate be an effective worker as well as appropriately inspirational?

There are numerous ways for you to learn about our candidates. As always, this issue of Psychiatric News provides candidates' biographical information and positions on issues important to psychiatry. However, in this age of electronic communication, it is easy to learn even more by visiting the Web sites of candidates who have them and contacting them directly by e-mail. (The URLs of candidates' Web sites and contact information can be accessed at <www.psych.org/Resources/Governance/Elections/Candidate-Contact-Information.aspx>). I also encourage you to share your ideas, concerns, and vision with them, since it is useful for candidates to have multiple perspectives from our membership. You can also contact colleagues who may know the candidates and who have had an opportunity to work with them in other venues. Taking the time to read about and reach out to candidates will ensure that you are doing your part to help APA steer a sound course for the future.

APA is one of a few major medical organizations that allow members to vote directly for their national leaders. Yet, less than one-third of our eligible voting members cast a ballot in APA's election. Why is that the case? Is this lack of participation a reflection of pessimism or a statement that there aren't real differences between candidates? Are members too busy caring for patients to research candidates or issues? Or are these members willing to delegate the election process to those most involved and active in APA?

I am looking for ways to engage more of our members in participating in the electoral process and taking on leadership roles in the Association. I hope some of you will consider running for national office in the next cycle, and I would welcome the opportunity to speak with any of you who are interested. In particular, I would like to encourage our younger members to become involved in this way.

I am hopeful that the simplicity of voting electronically will encourage more of you to vote this year. If you have additional ideas about how to improve voter turnout, please contact me at carol.bernstein@nyumc.org. And to those of you who do take the time to learn about the candidates and vote, you have my thanks. We all benefit from your involvement. blacksquare

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