PSV Virginia News

Fall 2019 Issue

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President's Message

By John Urbach, MD, DLFAPA
PSV President

John Urbach, MD

Dr. John Urbach

I hope all of our members weathered the hot summer and are enjoying a lovely Virginia autumn. As we look forward to our October meeting at Virginia Beach, I thought it fitting to reflect on one growing role of the PSV: encouraging the professional and scholarly growth of residents and medical students. Our association manager (Andrew Mann), our legislative team, and several members of our Board, routinely visit residency programs and student psychiatric groups across the state, educating trainees about the importance of organized advocacy, and engaging them in presenting their clinical and research efforts to us.

A recent survey by the Association of American Medical Colleges reaffirmed something we have all sensed: The shortage of psychiatrists in this country is critical, and treatment needs may outstrip doctor supply for years to come. About 60% of practitioners are now over age 55, and likely to retire within the next decade. From the 1980’s until recent years, a declining percentage of graduating medical students were choosing our specialty, compounding the shortage problem. Hopes improved as, during the past decade, new medical schools opened, and many existing schools expanded their class sizes. However residency programs, particularly in psychiatry, have not increased their positions proportionately, creating a “bottleneck” in professional training.

Here in Virginia, we have seen some positive trends:  The EVMS, UVA, and VCU Schools of Medicine significantly expanded their enrollments, and Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine accepted its first entering class in 2003. More recently the VT Carilion School of Medicine opened its doors (2010), and Liberty University established a School of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating its first class in 2018. There has also been greater interest among medical students in pursuing our specialty. The psychiatry residency programs at EVMS, UVA, and VCU have increased their numbers minimally; the VT Carilion residency (Roanoke) has operated since 1991; and a new program opened in 2018 at Lewis Gale Hospital (Salem). The US Naval Hospital residency at Portsmouth continues to train excellent military psychiatrists, from both uniformed services and civilian medical schools.

Our PSV currently includes 185 residents/fellows, and 50 medical students, in addition to our 468 active members. At our Fall Meeting, you will see about 30 poster presentations from trainees across Virginia, representing innovative patient care and research from our next generation. The PSV Foundation supports this work, as well as a number of mental health awareness programs each year. Your tax-deductible contributions to the Foundation can thus be an investment in the future of our profession.

The Psychiatric Society of Virginia, now approaching its 85th anniversary, has become a driving force in the Commonwealth for psychiatric education, patient advocacy, professional integrity and legislative oversight.  On behalf of all of us, we thank you for your involvement and look forward to seeing you “at the beach” in October.

American Professional Agency

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