The 2013 AAGP Annual Meeting: A Behind-the-Scenes Look from the Program Committee Chair
|Dan Sewell, MD|
The AAGP will convene its 2013 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, California, and the association has a valuable program planned. Here are just a few of the highlights: Several workshops that will provide hands-on training experiences, including one that will unite experts from the USA and the UK in a discussion of the use of antipsychotic medications for patients living with dementia, a plenary session on the recently released Institute of Medicine’s report on mental health workforce issues impacting older Americans led by Dan Blazer, who chaired the workgroup, and an address by Patti Davis, daughter of President Ronald Reagan.
Planning and preparing for our Annual Meeting is a major endeavor and begins more than two years in advance. A few of the most important initial decisions include selecting a location, both the city and the actual hotel and meeting facilities, and identifying an AAGP member to serve as the meeting chair. It was a tremendous honor for me when the leadership of the AAGP asked me to be the chair of our 2013 Annual Meeting.
One of my first important tasks in this role was to decide on a theme of the meeting and so in the midst of the 2011 winter holiday season, I succeeded in finding some quiet time to think about the theme. I sat down with a blank piece of paper and a pen and, like my psychoanalytically oriented mentors from days past taught me, I began to free associate. A variety of facts, ideas and circumstances began welling up from my unconscious mind. What is the zeitgeist of our field at this moment in time, I pondered? What are positive associations that AAGP members may have about California? Notice I said “positive.” Having lived in California for over 25 years, I have learned well both the negative impressions that exist about California, as well as the positive. Clearly, California is more than “the land of fruits and nuts” with a dysfunctional state government that rarely finds consensus or succeeds at passing an annual budget in a timely fashion.
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After a while, four main ideas emerged: the arrival of the first wave of “the Silver Tsunami” on January 1, 2011, when the first baby boomers turned 65 years old; the growing interest in clinical research on successful aging; the California Gold Rush era, which played such an important role in influencing California’s early development and the image that California once had as the land of milk and honey; and the need for our Annual Meeting to continue the tradition of giving geriatric mental health practitioners the knowledge and the tools needed to provide state-of–the-art care to those whom we serve. It was out of this mélange that the theme for the 2013 annual meeting emerged: “Finding the Golden Years at the Dawn of a Silver Age: Tools for Geriatric Mental Health Prospectors.”
I am delighted to report that we had an abundance of strong session proposals, and I am very grateful for the help that I received from the members of the Annual Meeting Program Committee in reviewing and ranking them. The educational offerings at our Annual Meeting will cover a broad spectrum of relevant topics that will be of interest to mental health practitioners of all types and will be presented by some of the most famous members of our field as well as by some of our brightest rising stars who are not yet famous but soon will be.
I am also pleased to let you know that the location and venue of the meeting are both excellent. The 878-room JW Marriott Hotel on the campus of L.A. Live opened February 15, 2010 and is still practically brand new. L.A. LIVE is an entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles adjacent to the Staples Center. L.A. LIVE cost approximately $2.5 billion and since the plans were first unveiled in 2006, L.A. LIVE has inspired a transformation of this section of America’s second largest city. L.A. LIVE has not only become a really wonderful place for professional meetings but the feel of the entire neighborhood has evolved. A growing number of young, diverse and sophisticated Angelinos have moved into some of the recently built or renovated housing options and with them have come an array of dining and entertainment options. Although the 2013 Annual Meeting is still about four months away, my excitement and anticipation is already on the rise. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible March 14-17, 2013, in LA.
Learn more about the AAGP 2013 Annual Meeting and register at www.AAGPmeeting.org.