Winter 2017 Issue

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President's Message

By Joe Mason, MD, MSW, DFAPA
PSV President

Joe Mason, MD

Joe Mason, MD

As I write this, the election has just concluded and the results are not surprising. In addition to the entire ticket of Democrats winning, the House of Delegates has swerved back towards something close to parity (some are uncertain due to recounts) instead of the 2/3 majority the Republicans previously enjoyed. Clearly, the public response to the chaos of the last 12 months has led to the pendulum swinging back, and the challenge of the incoming administration will be to calm the turbulent waters and try to figure out how to get along with one another.

Senator Bill De Steph
Senator Bill De Steph (right) is presented with the PSV Legislator of the Year Award at he PSV 2017 Fall Meeting.

Speaking of chaos, our Fall Meeting was a huge success. We had the biggest turnout in years, and those who attended were rewarded with several outstanding presentations. The conference was held in Virginia Beach, and the setting overlooking the bay was beautiful. The theme was “Disruption: Managing in a World of Chaos,” and it began Friday afternoon with a workshop on the integration of psychiatry and primary care medicine. After our Board meeting, Sunovion sponsored a reception where we honored Senator Bill De Steph as Legislator of the Year. Bill is a Gulf War veteran who has become an ally of mental health and has been an advocate for policies that promote the welfare of our patients and providers at the state level. He appears to be someone who will continue to be open to our input regarding legislation that affects our profession for many years to come.

Saturday morning began with an outstanding talk by Norman “Mike” Camp, MD on the story of psychiatry in the Vietnam War. He recently wrote a book on the subject and his dedication to telling an untold story was amazing. He was able to track down 120 of the 130 psychiatrists who served and was able to get details of treatment that were simply not available due to the nearly complete absence of medical records. It was quite a moving presentation. Next up was Ananda Pandurangi, MD, who once again impressed us with his extensive knowledge of more than just the science of medicine. He spoke about the history of yoga and the data on the biological benefits of the practice. Ananda never ceases to amaze me with his thorough grasp of whatever subject he presents and his ability to confer his wisdom succinctly and articulately. He is one of VCU’s greatest assets, and we are indeed fortunate to have him as a colleague and teacher.

Vidant HealthNext, we broke for poster sessions, and the wealth of excellent posters was impressive. We had to reduce the field due to an excess of abstracts, and we intend to figure out a way to accommodate all of them for next year. There were 30 posters presented, and the quality was consistently outstanding. All the medical schools are doing a wonderful job of educating students based on the high quality of this session. Then, Andy Thomson, MD, gave a compelling talk on suicide risk assessment which was a sweeping tour of the history of suicide and led up to a tool which is practical and evidence-based. Andy has always been one of the best educators we have in our society, and I am hoping he doesn’t tire of my requests for him to speak in the future. I wish we could have given him twice as much time, but he seems to be able to adapt to whatever we need and I am eternally grateful for his service to our profession. The last morning session featured a talk by Allison Jackson, PhD, and Varun Choudhary, MD, on the effects of early childhood trauma with an emphasis on the quality of resilience. It was a great presentation, mostly by Dr. Jackson, who was able to incorporate her own personal experiences into her talk, and the credibility she brought was powerful.

The afternoon began with a review of the Army STARRS data by Col. David Benedek, MD, who leads the ongoing study of the assessment of suicide risk among military personnel. This was another really well done and comprehensive talk covering wide ground and led to excellent questions and discussion among the participants. It was truly illuminating and invigorating and another which I would love to have gone on for another hour. We then heard from Sherry Todd, PhD, who spoke about traumatic stress and hope, focusing on several methods that are outside of our usual fields of experience. Finally, we had a Q and A with Andy, Ananda and David, which was well worth it for those who hung around long enough to enjoy it.

The entire weekend was wonderful and we appreciate all those who attended and especially those of you who took the time to present.

In keeping with one of the themes of Anita Everett’s presidency of the APA this year, I encourage us all to avoid burnout and keep a close watch on our own mental health. As we enter the fray of politics and social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotions of the moment and lose sight of one of our missions: to serve as examples of composure and rational thinking, which we promote and need to be mindful of practicing. Take good care of ourselves and we are better able to teach and take good care of our patients and our communities. And finally, please don’t neglect to pay your dues-the APA has recently sent out bills and it is essential to continue to support our national, state and local organizations so we can continue to evolve and advocate for wellness and compassion in our world.

American Professional Agency

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