Spring 2021 Issue
By Sherin Moideen, MD
I would like to extend my warm regards to my colleagues at Psychiatric Society of Virginia, as well as all the mental health advocates across the Commonwealth of Virginia. The year 2020 started with many challenges and now more than a year later, we are still in the midst of possibly yet another surge in COVID-19 cases. This past year our community, patients, colleagues, and fellow healthcare workers on the front lines gave it their all, and grew weary, as it seemed that the end was nowhere in sight.
However, the year 2021 started off as a year of hope, respite, and recovery. Our patients and colleagues started getting the vaccine, which has shown that it is quite formidable in stopping this virus. We can finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We now hope that our patients, colleagues, and communities will soon experience some normalcy in their lives. We also hope that this fall, the face-to-face interactions and other social connections vital to the development of the youngest members of our society, will be possible again.
Earlier this year, about 200 healthcare related bills were introduced in the Virginia General Assembly. We have seen the results of mental health advocacy in the form of Marcus Alert, and other bills, that will improve mental health awareness and care in Virginia. I was very pleased to see that patients experiencing mental health crises will now have access to non-traumatic transportation. This initiative will provide safe transportation from the ER to their accepting hospital without involving law enforcement. These are signs that advocacy for our patients and our community is effective. In February we had our spring conference, and we were honored to host a great panel of speakers on the very important topic of challenging mental health disparities and how we can strive to improve them.
At our spring conference, we also learned about COVID-19’s strain on Virginia’s behavioral health system from the Chief Clinical Officer and Director of Step VA access program at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. As psychiatrists, we are the leaders who set the standard for psychiatric care for our patients.
This year, 1,904 medical students were matched into Psychiatric residency programs across the United States - the highest number of medical students to ever match into psychiatry. In the midst of a significant physician shortage, 7-10% of US medical students went unmatched this cycle. This calls for an increase in residency spots in Psychiatry and Primary Care to address the significant physician shortage. At PSV we advocate for our graduating medical students and residents to become experts in their respective fields, and to become highly qualified specialists to serve our community and help address the exponential rise in mental health demands in the state and beyond.
I would like to thank PSV board members and Dr. Stephen Cunningham, the 2020-2021 PSV President, for setting a great precedent with his innovation and leadership during a difficult time. I am looking forward to working with our new Secretary, Dr. Ajay Kuchibhatla, Treasurer, Dr. Karl Northwall, and President-Elect, Dr. Michal Cieraszynski. Here is hoping for a better future and the continued rich tradition of Psychiatric Society of Virginia to promote the highest quality of care through education and advocacy for our patients and our colleagues.
September 24-25, 2021
Hilton Norfolk The Main
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