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APA Meetings
IPS Gives Residents Opportunity to Participate in Valuable Meeting
Psychiatric News
Volume 47 Number 15 page 16a-16a

Two years ago I went to my first Institute on Psychiatric Services (IPS), which was held in Boston, because I wanted to know more about community psychiatry practices and policies. I managed to get an opportunity to chair a lecture on socio-cultural disparities in mental health care. About half the room was filled, with people drifting in and out. The material and the presenter were solid, but we were up against 10 concurrent sessions that were just as good. The richness of the scientific offerings sustained a lively exchange of ideas long into the night. I met many smart and committed peers and mentors through spontaneous conversations and events sponsored by the American Association of Community Psychiatrists.

The IPS holds many opportunities for trainees to participate and be supported in their interests. It’s also where I found a connection with the broader community of my peers and colleagues.

For example, after the Boston IPS, several of us started collaborating on a presentation for the 2011 IPS in San Francisco. This institute reproduced Boston’s atmosphere of collegiality and intellectual ferment, but with West Coast casualness. We completed our talk and went on to support our peers in their poster presentations and workshops. When the conference ended for the day, we continued our adventure in the city; it was, after all, Halloween.

I asked a fellow resident, Clara Ruiz, M.D., who attended her first IPS in San Francisco, to reflect on the experience. She is a fourth-year psychiatry resident and administrative chief at Oregon Health and Science University.

For Clara, it was one particular talk on exploring suicidal ideation in physician patients that made the deepest impression. She wrote, “It touched me because I experienced the suicide of a trusted mentor in my last year of medical school. This loss led to me to realize that though we are taught as physicians to be infallible, no amount of education, experience, or status can protect us from being human and vulnerable to pain and suffering. We are bound to develop problems that we cannot fix ourselves. We come upon the fork in the road where our pride as physicians and the shame of acknowledging imperfection interfere with our ability to ask for help. We should acknowledge that despite our strengths and accomplishments, we are also an at-risk population.… I feel increasingly strongly that we physicians have to create a culture and community where it’s OK to think of ourselves as patients too—that is, deserving of help once in a while. To advocate for the health of our community, we must be a part of this community.”

The IPS makes the space for exploration of complex, often difficult topics facing the profession and engaging attendees. For Clara, it seemed that she gained clarity in her core values as a physician through this serendipitous connection at the IPS.

So what’s in store for this year? The theme of this year’s institute, which is being held in New York October 4 to 7, is “Pursuing Wellness Through Recovery and Integration.” It will be even bigger and bolder than the previous two institutes. We have innovative programs, “rock-star” presenters, a resident-focused track dealing with training issues and career and leadership development, a keynote lecture by Elyn Saks, J.D., Ph.D., an oral history of community mental health told by the pioneers of the movement, and much more—all, I’m sure, done with a New York accent but keeping to the convivial tone that is the signature of the conference. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends again, making new friends, learning something new, and participating in something meaningful—a community.

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Michael Yao, M.D., M.P.H., is a geriatric psychiatry fellow at Oregon Health and Sciences University and a 2010-2013 APA Public Psychiatry Fellow.

Registration information and the preliminary program can be accessed at www.psychiatry.org/learn/institute-on-psychiatric-services. Save on fees by registering before the advance registration deadline of September 14.

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