President's Column: Members at Forefront of Innovation and Collaboration

Published Monday, June 2, 2014 9:00 am
by Susan K. Schultz, MD, AAGP President
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AAGP President Susan K. Schultz, MD

As we move into summer, it is rewarding to reflect on the accomplishments of our AAGP members and their contributions to the field over the past year! Along these lines, I am delighted to share that our AAGP Past President and AJGP Editor in Chief Dilip V. Jeste has been appointed as Associate Dean for Healthy Aging and Senior Care at the University of California, San Diego, and will direct their newly established Center on Healthy Aging and Senior Care. The center is poised to become a major think-tank for senior care policy, research and training. Goals include developing new evidence-based, personalized and cost-effective health care models, and helping train new generations of physicians, pharmacists and scientists with expertise in aging and geriatric mental health. It is exciting to see our AAGP members at the forefront of innovation and collaborative efforts to address critical eldercare needs.

Our AAGP members also continue to collaborate closely with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), as workgroups have been formed to define the Geriatric Psychiatry Subspecialty Milestones. The milestone project for the Psychiatry Subspecialties is the next step in advancing educational outcome assessments in graduate medical education. It involves a subspecialty-specific system of competency-based learning that is planned to become effective July 2015. A workgroup has been identified by the ACGME for our subspecialty, chaired by Iqbal “Ike” Ahmed for our unique milestone development. At this juncture, Dr. Ahmed is working with the chairs of other workgroups from Addiction Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent, Forensics and Psychosomatics under the guidance of Chris Thomas, the outgoing chair of the ACGME Psychiatry Residency Review Committee. Together they are drafting the milestones for the four common competencies (e.g., professionalism), while later this summer the individual subspecialties will meet separately to define the milestones for the medical knowledge and patient care core competencies unique to each field.

We are fortunate to have the talent of AAGP members Josepha Cheong, Maria Llorente, Sandra Swantek and Susan Maixner working on this effort, as they have been named to the Geriatric Psychiatry Workgroup chaired by Ike Ahmed. The ACGME has also requested a representative from our leadership to serve as an overall advisor, and Melinda Lantz, AAGP Secretary/Treasurer, will be serving in this role. It is expected that the work on the milestones will be completed by the end of the year and ready for implementation in July of 2015. Lots to look forward to from this major effort! Undoubtedly our AAGP leaders involved in this work would welcome feedback and insights from our many members with extensive experience in fellowship training!

Last but certainly not least, we have a late-breaking publication from our AAGP members addressing critical issues in the dearth of residents entering subspecialty fellowship training. In the May issue of Academic Psychiatry, Past President Paul Kirwin published “A Call to Restructure Psychiatry General and Subspecialty Training” with co-authors Michelle Conroy, Constantine Lyketsos, Blaine Greenwald, Brent Forester, Christine deVries, Iqbal “Ike” Ahmed, Ilse Wiechers, Kristina Zdanys, David Steffens, and Charles F. Reynolds III. The paper succinctly outlines a compelling strategy for increasing the number of psychiatric subspecialists while simultaneously enhancing the cost-effectiveness of fellowship training. A model is proposed that will permit general residency training requirements to be met within three years, making the fourth year available for efficient completion of subspecialty training. Residents would then qualify for general and sub-specialty psychiatry board certification at the end of four years of training. This article serves as an essential catalyst to stimulate the necessary discussions to find solutions to the growing shortage of specialty providers. Again we have our AAGP members at the forefront of the aging dialogue, yet we have many miles to go before we rest!