Bernstein Wins APA Presidency

// Published March 20, 2009 in Psychiatric News

APA's new president-elect has served the Association in a wide array of leadership posts, which should serve her well in her goal to reshape APA to better meet the needs of younger psychiatrists.

Longtime psychiatric educator and APA leader Carol Bernstein, M.D., won the nod from her colleagues to become the Association's next president-elect.

Now in the final months of a two-year term as APA vice president, Bernstein will take over as president-elect at the close of APA's 2009 annual meeting in San Francisco on May 21.

The president-elect race was one of several three-way contests this year and the only one in which the victor received a majority on the first vote, thus avoiding the need to proceed through APA's prefferential voting process. Bernstein won 50.5 percent of the vote, outpolling Roger Peele, M.D., who received 29.6 percent of the vote, and Michael Blumenfield, M.D., who garnered 19.9 percent of the vote.

Bernstein previously served as APA treasurer, chair of the Committee on Graduate Medical Education, and an Assembly representative from the New York County District Branch. She is an associate professor of psychiatry and associate dean for graduate medical education at New York University School of Medicine.

Bernstein said that she is "proud and thrilled to have this extraordinary opportunity to represent psychiatry at such an exciting time, especially since President Obama has made health care reform a major priority for the nation."

She noted that Obama is the first president in decades who has reached out to the mental health community for its input on how to improve the health care system. "And with the new parity law in place," she added, "mental health disorders will be considered on an equal basis with all other medical illnesses."

As for the challenges facing APA in the next several years, Bernstein said that the Association is "struggling with its relevance to the next generation of psychiatrists," who have different expectations for their work life and their professional association than did the psychiatrists who preceded them and built the current APA. Bernstein, a longtime educator, said, "I have devoted my career to preparing the next generation of psychiatrists, and this is the time for APA to reshape itself so it can better meet the needs of patients, future psychiatrists, and those now beginning their careers."

Jeffrey Geller, M.D., of Massachusetts won the three-way race to succeed Bernstein as vice president. He received 55.7 percent of the vote after the preferential ballot plan was applied. Coming in second was Area 4 Trustee Sidney Weissman, M.D., of Chicago, followed by former Assembly Speaker Jeffrey Akaka, M.D., of Honolulu.

Under the preferential voting system, which is used in races with more than two candidates, voters are asked to rank the candidates in the order in which they would like to see them win. If no candidate garners a majority in the first round of counting, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated—in this case that was Akaka—and the second-choice votes on the ballots cast for him or her are redistributed to the remaining candidates. Geller received a majority after the redistributed votes were apportioned between him and Weissman.

Each year one of APA's three trustee-at-large positions is open for election, and this year it was the one reserved for an early career psychiatrist. The winner was Joyce Spurgeon, M.D., of Louisville, Ky., who outpolled Harsh Trivedi, M.D., of Providence, R.I. Spurgeon received 57.2 percent of the vote.

Three of APA's Areas also elected trustees this year, and two of the three victors will be joining the Board for the first time.

In Area 1 the new trustee will be Frederick Stoddard Jr., M.D., of Boston, who won 55.2 percent of the vote to defeat Robert Feder, M.D., of Manchester, N.H. Area 1 includes the New England states plus the Canadian district branches for Ontario and for Quebec and Eastern Canada.

The new Area 4 trustee will be John Wernert, M.D., of Indianapolis. He received 64.4 percent of the vote against his opponent, Sul Ross Thorward, M.D., of Columbus, Ohio. Area 4 is composed of the Midwestern states.

In Area 7, which includes the Rocky Mountain states, Alaska, Hawaii, the West Coast except for California, and Western Canada, William Womack, M.D., of Seattle won a second term on the Board. He garnered 51.3 percent of the vote in defeating Constance Powell, M.D., of Portland, Ore.

A trio of candidates also competed for the Board's member-in-training trustee-elect (MITTE) position. Kayla Pope, M.D., a Children's National Medical Center/National Institute of Mental Health child psychiatry fellow, emerged the winner. She received 53.2 percent of the votes after those of the third-place finisher, Erick Cheung, M.D., were redistributed between her and Laura Kent, M.D., who came in second. Cheung is a resident at the University of California at Los Angeles, and Kent is a resident at New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.