Note: Dr. Nasrallah has withdrawn his candidacy for APA President-Elect. For a statement of explanation click here.
I have been informed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Nominating Committee that I am a candidate for the position of APA President-Elect. I am honored to be nominated along with 2 other esteemed psychiatrists, David C. Henderson, MD, and Vivian B. Pender, MD.
You have all known me for many years as Editor-in-Chief of this journal, and probably have read many of my 150 editorials in which I frequently discussed and commented on not only the challenges that face psychiatry, but also the great promise and bright future of our evolving clinical neuroscience medical specialty. You can access all of these at MDedge.com/psychiatry/editor.
In this pre-election editorial, I would like to tell you about my qualifications as a candidate for this critical national psychiatry leadership role. Most of you are APA members who will have the opportunity to vote for the candidate of your choice from January 2 to 31, 2020. I hope that you will support my candidacy after learning about my long-standing involvement within the APA governance, as well as my 3 decades of academic leadership experience and productivity. You also know where I stand on the issues from my writings in Current Psychiatry.
- President, Missouri Psychiatric Physicians Association District Branch (2017-2018)
- President, Cincinnati Psychiatric Society (2007-2009)
- President, Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Foundation (2008-2013)
- Editor, Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association (OPPA) Newsletter (Insight Matters) (2003-2008)
- Executive Council, OPPA (2003-2013)
- APA Council on Research (1993-2000)
- APA Committee on Research in Psychiatric Treatments (1992-1995)
- APA Task Force on Schizophrenia (1998-1999)
- President, Ohio Psychiatric Association Education and Research Foundation (1987-1994)
Academic track record
- Served as Chief of Psychiatry, VA Medical Center, Iowa City, Iowa for 6 years; Chair, Department of Psychiatry, The Ohio State University for 12 years; Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Saint Louis University for 6 years; and Associate Dean, University of Cincinnati for 4 years
- Published >700 articles, 570 abstracts, and 14 books
- Recruited and developed dozens of faculty members; supervised and mentored hundreds of residents, many of whom became medical directors, department chairs, and/or distinguished clinicians
- Received numerous awards and recognitions for clinical, teaching, and research excellence
- Serve as Editor for 3 journals (Current Psychiatry, Schizophrenia Research, and Biomarkers in Neuropsychiatry)
Statement of vision and priorities
I am very optimistic about the future of psychiatry. The breakthroughs and advances in neuroscience all bolster the scientific basis of psychiatric disorders, and will lead to many novel treatments in the future. Psychiatry is a medical specialty that is now much more integrated into the “big tent” of medicine. Psychiatrists are physicians, and I believe the name of our association must reflect that. I was successful in changing the names of 2 district branches to include “physicians” (Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association and Missouri Psychiatric Physicians Association). If elected, I will propose to the Board of Trustees and the APA members that we change our name to the American Psychiatric Physicians Association, which will emphasize our medical identity within mental health. In its 175-year history, the APA has experienced 2 previous name changes.
I believe the strengths of the APA far exceed its weaknesses, and its opportunities outnumber its threats. However, the following perennial challenges must be forcefully addressed by all of us:
- The pernicious and discriminatory dogma of stigma must be shattered for the sake of patients, their families, their psychiatrists, and the profession.
- Pre-authorization is essentially the insurance companies practicing medicine without a license when, without ever actually examining the patient, they tell physicians what they should or should not prescribe. That’s felonious!
- Competent and safe prescribing is the culmination of extensive medical training (approximately 14,000 hours) and psychologists do not qualify.
- Board certification fees must be reduced, and recertification (Maintenance of Certification) must be simpler and less onerous.
- Effective parity laws must have teeth, not just words!
- Patient care, not computer care! Electronic health records must be more user-friendly and less time-consuming.
- Patients with psychiatric illness who have relapsed must be surrounded by compassionate medical professionals in a hospital setting, not by armed guards in a jail or prison.
- The shortage of psychiatrists can be remedied if the government funds additional residency slots as it did in the 1960s and 1970s. The number of applicants for psychiatric training is rapidly rising, but the number of residency slots has not changed for decades. Approximately 100 US medical school graduates did not match last year, along with >1,000 international medical graduate applicants.
- Lawyers have clients; psychiatrists have patients (as do cardiologists, neurologists, and oncologists). The term “clients” de-medicalizes psychiatric disorders and does not evoke public support or compassion.
- Psychotherapy is in fact a neurobiologic treatment that repairs the mind via neuroplasticity and synaptogenesis. It should get the same respect as pharmacotherapy.
- Untether psychiatric reimbursement from “time”! Psychiatric assessment and treatment are medical procedures. Excising depression, psychosis, panic attacks, or suicidal urges are to the mind what surgery is to the body.
- Clinical psychiatrists have much to offer for medical advances. Their observations generate hypotheses, and if these are published as a case report or letter to the editor, researchers can conduct hypothesis-testing and discover new treatments thanks to astute clinicians.
- The FDA should allow clinical trials to investigate treatments of symptoms, not (often heterogenous) DSM diagnoses. This will enable “off-label use” of medication, which often is necessary.
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