I am always excited when I anticipate going to the APA annual meeting, and I was even more thrilled than usual this year since the meeting was in my adopted hometown of New York City. With the largest turnout of any annual meeting in recent memory, it seems I was not alone!
The highlights included talks by luminaries including Alan Alda, Eric Kandel, and Joe Biden, along with sessions by our colleagues on a multitude of important topics. For the first time, this year there was an official resident track, with sessions designed especially for (and often by) resident-fellow members (RFMs)— and there were also many fantastic opportunities for us to network with our peers, more-senior colleagues, and APA leadership.
One key venue for this was the Resident Resource Center (RRC), a designated place for RFMs to relax and get information about the meeting and the city. This is the second year that we’ve had an RRC, thanks to the hard work of our outgoing RFM trustee Erik Vanderlip. This year, it was a space free from scientific programming. There were daily brown-bag lunches for informal advice and mentoring by leaders from a number of the subspecialty organizations, and several of them also passed along additional leadership opportunities for RFMs within their groups. The RFM Caucus also met in the RRC on both Monday and Tuesday afternoons. On Monday, we were joined by Dr. Renȳe Binder, APA’s president-elect, for a wonderful, intimate brainstorming session on how best to recruit, engage, and retain young members.
We also had the chance to talk with experienced psychiatrists at the early-morning Meet the Experts breakfast, the Women’s Mentoring Breakfast, and the Early Career Research breakfast. Outside of the meeting itself, we explored the city and got to know other RFMs as well as early career psychiatrists and medical students from the PsychSIGN group at a series of stellar social events organized by incoming RFM Trustee-Elect Ravi Shah, who is a PGY-2 at Columbia. We kept up with the real-time info on these events via the Annual Meeting Resident Edition Facebook page, which had more than 450 members! Ravi said, “I had the opportunity to meet residents and fellows from all over the country and even the world, all with their own unique backgrounds, experience, and plans for the future. Many expressed interest in participating in APA leadership and opportunities, and I realized so many people want to be involved. I must say after my first annual meeting, I have never been more excited about our field’s future.”
I couldn’t agree more! Every year that I’ve been to the annual meeting, I leave exhausted from the whirlwind pace and at the same time energized by meeting so many other psychiatrists who are passionate about improving conditions for our patients and our colleagues and by getting more exposure to APA’s amazing work. For example, Uyen-Khanh Quang-Dang, who is a PGY-4 at the University of California, San Francisco, and the outgoing president of the APA Leadership Fellowship, not only presented at a workshop on mentoring but chaired both a workshop on media appearances and a symposium on issues of patient suicide during residency. She put it beautifully in saying, “APA has worked hard to build meaningful relationships so that mental health awareness is brought to Capitol Hill and the national stage. It’s one of the many reasons why I wholeheartedly believe that every single psychiatrist should be a member of APA. The Assoication’s tireless advocacy benefits all of us. We wouldn’t be at the policymaking table without APA.”
This year’s meeting was a resounding success, and a great kickoff to what I’m sure will be an incredibly rewarding year as the RFM trustee. I’m looking forward to working with you, and I want to encourage you to take advantage of the many opportunities APA has to offer! Jon Fanning, who is APA’s new chief membership and RFM-ECP officer, put together a handbook listing all of the ways to get involved. You can find it on the resident page here. One of my goals this year is to help connect RFMs to the wealth of information and resources that APA has to offer—and to help integrate the many talented and motivated RFMs who want to make a difference in their local and national communities into APA as a whole. So please feel free to email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to hear from you! ■