AAGP President's Column: Why You Should Care about Research at the AAGP Annual Meeting

Published Tuesday, September 24, 2013 9:00 am
by David C. Steffens, MD, MHS, AAGP President
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AAGP President David C. Steffens

I was pondering what I should focus on for the president’s column, and then I received an email reminder about upcoming deadlines for poster submissions for the AAGP Annual Meeting in Orlando, March 14–17. Specifically, I noted that New Research Posters are due October 1, and Early Investigator Posters are due October 15. I was inspired at the thought of the terrific amount of research presented at our meeting and decided to spotlight these efforts in today’s column.

In my professional career, I have been fortunate to have had clinical, administrative and educational roles, but my primary identification has been as a researcher. There is no doubt in my mind that AAGP played a pivotal role in my research career. Our Annual Meeting provides a unique venue to network, to present research ideas, and to serve on important committees and in leadership positions, all essential activities for an academic researcher.

In terms of networking, the AAGP Annual Meeting is THE place to meet and have meaningful conversations with leaders in our field who are active in cutting-edge research that moves our field forward. What is particularly special about AAGP is that these luminaries of geriatric mental health research make themselves available not only to fellow researchers but to all attendees—clinicians, educators, trainees and students. But for an up-and-coming junior researcher, the ability to interact with and “learn the ropes” academically is key to shaping one’s development. It is also important that the network of AAGP attendees includes members from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, from industry, and from important foundations that fund research. 

AAGP provides researchers an opportunity to present their findings, regardless of their experience, rank or training. Our Early Investigator Poster Session allows students, trainees and junior faculty to show their results to the AAGP community. More experienced researchers have an opportunity to present their work as New Research Posters or part of a symposium. In all of our presentations, we place a high bar on including only high-quality scientific work that is free from commercial bias and provides an opportunity for meaningful learning and discussion.

Another opportunity for researchers provided by AAGP is an opportunity to participate in the structure of the organization itself. The Research Committee helps shape the educational offering at the meeting each year and serves as a liaison between AAGP and colleagues at NIMH and other supporters of geriatric mental health research. Our Education Committee is responsible for assuring that our CME offerings comply with regulations. These committees need researchers, and the work that the committees do provides important experiences for individual members, who both gain a better understanding of the research review process and, as a practical matter, have an important line item to add to their CVs! Beyond committee opportunities, researchers play an important role on the Board of Directors and in other leadership positions.

I encourage researchers at any stage of their careers to submit abstracts for our Annual Meeting. And, just as importantly, I hope that all members will attend the poster sessions. This is a time for us to learn, support individuals engaged in research, meet with old friends and make new ones.

Submit a poster abstract online at www.AAGPmeeting.org