President's Column: You and AAGP

Published Monday, July 29, 2013
by David C. Steffens, MD, MHS, AAGP President
AAGP President David C. Steffens

It is a truism that the strength of any organization lies in the individual strengths, talents and involvement of its people. AAGP is a strong organization because its members are passionate about our field and are willing to devote time to advancing our clinical, research and educational missions. Over the past couple of years, AAGP has made several structural changes that will help empower members to get involved. Among these changes are the establishment of core committees, Clinical Practice, Research, and Teaching and Training, and the inclusion of each committee chair on the Board of Directors. I’d like to spend this President’s Column highlighting these important committees in the hopes that you will consider joining one or more committees to add your voice and your talents to our organization.

The Clinical Practice Committee is a very active group of committed clinicians. They tackle a wide variety of issues facing clinicians who care for older adults with mental and substance use disorders. Among the topics recently addressed by the CPC are antipsychotic use, billing and coding, electronic health records, and clinical mentoring for junior colleagues and trainees. The Committee has active plans to reach out to advanced practice nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and other disciplines included in our membership but who may not yet have joined committees or assumed other leadership positions. The CPC maintains an active listserv; I urge all clinicians who want to help shape policies affecting practice, gain clinical knowledge or assume a leadership role in the organization to join this important committee.

The Research Committee has long played a pivotal role in the dissemination, advancement and training of research in our field. The Committee has always worked closely with key funders of research, e.g., the Geriatrics Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health. For example, the Committee recently responded to a Request for Information for suicide research funding opportunities by the NIMH. The Research Committee also sponsors important activities at the Annual Meeting, including Neuroscience Teaching Day and a workshop for NIMH K awardees. Committee members will review posters in the fall for the 2014 Annual Meeting. If you are a geriatric mental health/substance abuse researcher, joining the Research Committee is a useful way to advance your career and to influence the direction of research in the field.

The Teaching and Training Committee has the important task of ensuring that AAGP provides high quality lifelong learning to its members.  Members of this committee are highly valued clinician educators at their home institutions, where they may serve as training directors.  Educators of all stripes are encouraged to join Teaching and Training, as they are presently working on important educational programming for the Annual Meeting, including the annual Training Directors Workshop, which features presentations on novel approaches to incorporate geriatric psychiatry exposure and training in medical student, residency and fellowship curricula along with novel geriatric psychiatry tracks in residency training. The Teaching and Training Committee is also gearing up to welcome a new crop of Geriatric Mental Health Foundation Scholars.

Needless to say, your involvement in any of these committees, or in other aspects of our organization is vital. Participation is open to all members and there is no limit on the number of members who may join each committee. Members are invited to join as many committees as they wish, and joining is as simple as signing up for the committee listserves, the committees’ online communities. Through the listserves, members will discover a wealth of information. For example:

  • Clinical Practice Committee members discuss challenging cases, new interventions and resources.
  • Research Committee members share information about awards, grants and publications.
  • Teaching and Training Committee members discuss  curriculum design and model programs.

To join a committee, please go to our website and click on “Get Involved” on the Membership tab. I think you’ll find the experience of greater involvement in AAGP both personally and professionally rewarding.