Our opportunity to influence policy and national advocacy
From ACLP president, Madeleine Becker, MA, MD, FACLP
It is both an honor and a great pleasure to lead the Academy this year. I wish all of you a happy and healthy 2024. The ACLP Board is in full swing and has been working on continuing to improve and optimize operations, develop strong partnerships with other key organizations, increase resources for our growing membership, and advance our strategic plans.
One of our ongoing and important strategic planning goals has been to strengthen and promote our subspecialty through relationships with key association allies and organizations, and, in particular, within the American Medical Association (AMA).
I am pleased to report that we had an outstanding response from our members in joining the AMA. This has resulted in our securing a seat as a Member of the AMA House of Delegates which has multiple implications for our organization.
Most importantly, it provides a voting seat for the Academy in the AMA’s policy-making body alongside the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and other members of the psychiatry Section Council. This seat solidifies our voice in the House of Medicine and gives us the opportunity to influence AMA policy and national advocacy, especially as it relates to mental health as part of overall health.
For those who have joined the AMA, there are multiple membership opportunities and resources, including year-round events, and state and federal advocacy summits and webinars. These events provide training and education on how to make an impact on legislators. Health justice and advocacy are areas where our members have continued to show great interest and have asked for resources. The AMA and also the APA both provide these opportunities.
Therefore, I strongly encourage every ACLP member to renew or become a member of the APA. The APA has long been a strong advocate for C-L psychiatrists. C-L Psychiatry has been well-represented in APA leadership: Ramaswamy Viswanathan, MD, FACLP, is the current APA president-elect, and Rebecca Brendel, MD, JD, FACLP, is the immediate past-president. Please support the association and register for the APA annual meeting in May 2024 in New York City.
This year, we will be launching a member-wide survey developed with our DEI Subcommittee to assess demographics of our membership and to learn about how we can better meet the needs of our growing Academy. We will continue to incorporate diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility in our annual meeting program and also throughout the organization.
We are also continuing to develop and refine roles for subcommittees, special interest groups (SIGs), forums, and caucuses to offer more opportunities to recognize and utilize the expertise of these groups. Our SIGs are the backbone of our organization and we aim to better streamline and disseminate their work. The Board will meet with all of the SIGs this year to assure support, collaboration, and opportunity to share their work through scholarly projects and presentations.
Another strategic goal over the past year has been to create year-round opportunities to highlight the latest research and education for our membership. We are currently designing educational intensives from our ACLP content experts and creating new ways of learning through virtual formats. Stay tuned. Please be sure to look for our monthly webinars featuring timely topics of interest, up-to-date research, and educational opportunities for our members.
The Board also continues to work on improving the transparency of the work that we do, and we plan to add webinar sessions on our operations and processes, as well as to increase visibility of Board work on the ACLP website.
As many of you know, our esteemed executive director, James Vrac, CAE, recently announced that he will be retiring in April of 2024. Much of our work over the past few months with James has been readying our incoming executive director, Phil Waitzman, MBA, MPH, to step into this role. This momentous transition will take significant effort—and patience—from all of us. Our hearts are heavy as we plan for James’ departure from our daily work and acknowledge all that he has done with ACLP for the past 11 years. Under his leadership, our membership has grown from 975 to 2,200. During his tenure, we have increased from approximately 15 SIGs to 29 SIGs, forums, and caucuses. He has led 11 successful annual meetings, growing attendance from 740 in 2013 to our highest-ever turnout of 1,450 at last year’s meeting in Austin. Our unrestricted net assets have grown from $800,000 to $3.5million during this time. Under his advisement, our Board has led ACLP to be the premier professional organization advancing psychiatric care for the medically ill. James has been a truly invested and innovative leader of ACLP. We will greatly miss his guidance and outstanding care of our organization throughout the past years.
Amy Bauer, MD, MS, FACLP, this year’s program chair, and Anne Gross, MD, FACLP, assistant program chair, are leading our Program Committee to put together a welcoming, academically inspiring, and enriching annual meeting with the theme, Promoting Whole Health through Innovative and Integrative Approaches to Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. The program will focus on evidence-based integrative medicine and holistic care and their roles in improving mental health.
Integrative medicine combines conventional medicine with complementary practices to optimize health and can be used to expand C-L Psychiatry’s expertise in the psychiatric care of the whole person. Integrative medicine focuses on physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, environmental, community, and population-based approaches to patient care.
The meeting will highlight how C-L psychiatrists can incorporate innovative ways to reach patients through therapeutic lifestyle, nutritional, and complementary interventions, alongside conventional and allopathic psychiatric/medical care to achieve optimal health and healing.
In response to our membership, this year we have developed additional virtual options for the annual meeting, including oral papers and workshop options for those who cannot, or choose not to, attend the meeting in person.
I look forward to seeing all of you in Miami!