President's Column: Scholar's Program: The time to give is now!

Published Monday, June 3, 2013
by David C. Steffens, MD, MHS, AAGP President
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AAGP President David C. Steffens

Did you know that our AAGP family is in possession of a remarkable heirloom? And what is truly amazing is that when we bestow this heirloom on worthy recipients, several magical things happen. Our family grows. Our field is enhanced. We develop new relationships. And a new generation of givers emerges.

This introduction may seem over the top, but in fact, the process of supporting the Scholars Program through the Scholars Fund does bring about these results. Since 2010, our donations supporting scholars at the last four Annual Meetings have nearly quadrupled. At the 2013 meeting in Los Angeles, we supported a record 35 scholars, providing registration, lodging, travel and a unique program at the meeting.

What do Scholars get out of the program?

Keeping in mind the goal of increasing the “pipeline” of terrific students and trainees entering the geriatric mental health field, AAGP and the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation developed the Scholars Fund. At its core, the program is designed to provide for the mentorship and educational development of medical students and psychiatry residents through multiple opportunities to participate in AAGP activities.

Specific components of the program include:

  • Structured Scholars Program in conjunction with the AAGP Annual Meeting
  • Individual mentorship opportunities for trainees
  • Tools for trainees to make informed choices about their careers
  • Travel support for trainees to attend the AAGP Scholars Program
  • AAGP membership

 What do you get out of it?

While donations to the Scholars Fund are tax deductible, it is clear that the main reason that AAGP members give to the fund is that they want our field to grow. They see their gift as an important investment in the future of geriatric mental health. It is a curious mixture of altruism and self-interest. Most assuredly, we are giving to others. But, in so doing we demonstrate that a career in geriatric mental health is relevant and worth pursuing.

Does it work? Our experience is that 75 percent of trainees exposed to senior members of the field choose to pursue geriatric fellowships. Is it coincidence that the number of geriatric psychiatry fellows is increasing over the past few years? The number of geriatric psychiatry fellows grew from 57 in 2010/2011 to 64 in 2011/2012 to 76 current fellows.

Why give now?

This summer, you should give to the Scholars Program. The timing will be perfect: the Annual Meeting Committee is starting to make its plans for our 2014 meeting in Orlando. And applications for the 2014 Scholars Program are due October 1, 2013. Knowing the size of the incoming Scholars cohort will be important for our planning. From the logistics of how many rooms to set aside to the skillful matching of individual mentors to scholars, there is a lot of work to be done, and the sooner we can get started, the better. You can help this process by making your donation today.

Dare we set an ambitious goal?

Our website shows an impressive graph.

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 Let’s commit to an ambitious goal for the 2014 Scholars Program: $100,000.

 We have the will. We have the resources. We have young students and trainees worth investing in.

 Let’s do it!

 Please consider making a generous gift to your program.

 It’s easy. Just visit the GMHF Scholars Fund page: www.aagponline.org/donatescholars

 Thanks for your consideration.