American Psychiatric Association Assembly Meeting Recap

By John P. D. Shemo, MD, DLFAPA
PSV Assembly Representative

This 95th meeting of the American Psychiatric Association Assembly was the third and hopefully last to be held using a virtual format.

As is typical, the meeting started with reports from various individuals in leadership positions in the APA and the Assembly, including the current speaker, Mary Jo Fitz-Gerald, MD, the speaker-elect, Adam Nelson, MD, and the APA CEO/Medical Director, Saul Levin, MD. 

Issues reviewed included:

  • The expectation that the 2022-2023 legislative session will include increased proposals that support prescriptive authority for psychologists.
  • Likewise, it is expected that Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants will also be seeking legislative support for expansion of their scope of practice into the field of psychiatric medicine.  As you may be aware, Physician Assistants are now insisting on being called “Physician Associates.” 
  • The 2022 APA annual scientific meeting is scheduled to be held in-person in New Orleans on May 21-25, 2022.  There will also be an opportunity to participate in a reduced virtual program two weeks following the in-person meeting. 
  • The text revision of DSM-5 is due for release on March 8, 2022. 
  • Full text usage of PsychiatryOnLine has continued to increase over the past three years, with monthly usage now consistently remaining above one million hits.  Despite this increased usage, the website has apparently not experienced any crashes or significant interruptions in service. 

The Assembly did review and vote on a number of APA position statements.  Included among these were:

  • Location of Civil Commitment Hearings
  • Trial Sentencing of Juveniles in the Criminal Justice System
  • Civil Commitment of Minors
  • Police Interactions with Children and Adolescents in Mental Health Crisis
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Medical Supervision of Psychiatry Residents and Fellows
  • Position Statement on Off-Label Treatment
  • Transition from Hospital-Based Care to the Community for Substance Abuse Disorders
  • Any Willing Physician

There are 153 APA position statements addressing a wide variety of topics including practice, legal, and social issues.  The statements themselves are generally short and to the point, but most also have some supporting documentation.  These position statements are often quite useful in discussions with legislators, administrators, and even insurance/monitoring entities.  They are available on the APA website.  For those position statements having to do with evolving issues, it is being attempted to have them reaffirmed, rewritten, or retired about every five years. 

There was a somewhat lesser number of Assembly generated action papers at this meeting. Included were papers to:

  • Address Changes to Improve Maintenance of Certification
  • Establish a Mentorship Program for Early and Mid-Career IMG Psychiatrists
  • Make the APA Annual Meeting Carbon Neutral by 2030 (how this will be mentored accurately I have no idea)
  • Support Advocacy Efforts Aimed at Destigmatizing Mental Health Treatment in Licensing/Credentialing Applications and Promoting Physicians Seeking Timely Care, Removing Barriers to Improve Health Care Access in Puerto Rico
  • Support for Decriminalizing Drug Use, and several addressing racism and racial discrimination in the psychiatric workplace, including structural racism in the APA

Finally, the meeting ended with a memorial for Paul O’Leary, MD, immediate Past Speaker of the Assembly, who died suddenly and unexpectedly just prior to the start of his term. 

As always, Adam Kaul, Varun Choudhary and I are always open to suggestions and advice regarding membership concerns that could be usefully addressed by the APA Assembly.

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PSV 2022 Spring Meeting
Integrative Psychiatry:
Putting it Into Practice
February 25-26, 2022
The Westin Richmond

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