IPS Town Hall

Electronic Spring 2021  |  Issue 46

IPS Town Hall
By: Jasleen Singh, MD

On January 28, 2021, IPS hosted a virtual town hall with over 30 attendees. The event began with introductions by the executive board, former presidents, and attendees, who described their involvement with IPS and daily practice. After an extensive meet-and-greet of IPS members from various backgrounds, including several subspecialties and even residents, an outline was set for the rest of the town hall, to first provide an update on advocacy and subsequently hear from various IPS committees regarding updates and upcoming events.

The focus then shifted to recent accomplishments with advocacy and this year’s plan to focus on telepsychiatry, access to care, and medical necessity bills. For the first time in 40 years, there is a new speaker of the Illinois house, and the General Advocacy Committee (GAC) hopes to speak with legislators as they form their opinions regarding upcoming bills and recruit more participants to help with this endeavor. It was also noted that Dr. Daniel Yohanna, co-chair of the access to care committee, is developing an advocacy training for IPS members. He stated, “the only way to make wholesale change to improve the lives of our patients is through the state of Illinois…it’s not easy, but to do wholesale work, it has to be through legislation”. This notion was echoed by Dr. Sudhakar Shenoy, an early career psychiatrist, who mentioned that since he was a resident, the GAC was essential in helping him understand the extent which the State of Illinois limits and dictates a significant part of our lives through legislation. Dr. Meryl Sosa also noted that during Advocacy week in April, IPS members can become more involved in advocacy by meeting with legislators to discuss current bills. She emphasized the importance of upcoming medical necessity bills and the goal to help improve access to mental health, noting that it would be helpful if any information regarding patient problems in relation to medical necessity were passed on to her. Prior to discussing updates with other committees, the complex situation of psychologists prescribing medications was briefly addressed and it was agreed that the ultimate goal is to ensure that any bills passed incorporate patient safety.

Subsequently, Dr. Houston, the new chair of the event planning committee, discussed upcoming events including a 5-month virtual series called “Psychiatry out of Clinical Practice” that will take place monthly on Thursday evenings from February through June. After the virtual series concludes, there will be another virtual event aimed for resident-fellow members in July, followed by an overall networking event in August. Plans for September and October are still being finalized, with an event to replace the Women’s March planned for September and the Annual meeting in October.

Dr. Adrienne Adams then discussed her new committee on anti-racism, which focuses on action and incorporating more education and discussions regarding this issue. She identified a goal-focused plan to create change at a variety of different levels, even impacting legislation when feasible. Dr. Theodote Pontikes followed as the new chair of the Child/Adolescent psychiatry committee. She discussed the committee’s upcoming focus to increase awareness regarding gaps in mental health care that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of including op-ed pieces. Furthermore, an ICCAP liaison has also been incorporated into the committee to help promote a stronger voice and more cohesion between APA and AACAP.

The meeting transitioned to touch on several other committees, including the private practice committee for those who are interested in creating or have experience in private practice. This committee has also created a listserv for private practice psychiatrists. The resident-fellow committee discussed their recent initiative of creating a mentorship program for IPS members and are currently underway recruiting mentees and mentors. They identified their upcoming goal to recruit more residents and fellows, as well as increasing diversity within the committee and IPS overall. The early retirement committee then noted that their future goal is to help retirees transition from active practice to more unstructured time and deal with resilience and being involved in volunteering and other activities. A few other members spoke about their involvement in other IPS initiatives and concluded that through the various events and specialty committees that IPS offers, IPS is able to recruit new members and retain them. 
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