Monday, June 17, 2013

Psychiatrist Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., Ends Year at Helm of AMA


It was a year of tumult, challenges, and successes that outgoing AMA President Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., recalled in his presidential address this weekend at the AMA’s House of Delegates meeting in Chicago. Lazarus recounted legislative and legal victories by the AMA regarding physician payment, scope of practice, insurance coverage, and access to care issues, as well as the organization’s continued pursuit of the goals of its strategic initiative: enhancing physician professional satisfaction and practice sustainability, changing and improving medical education for the 21st century, and improving health outcomes.

A past speaker of the APA Assembly, and just the third psychiatrist to be president of the AMA, he brought a new focus on mental illness and the importance of psychiatry to the larger medical community. In his address at the House, Lazarus noted that just a month after his inauguration as AMA president last year, the Aurora, Colo., shooting occurred in which 12 people were killed and some 58 wounded. It was followed by the calamitous shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December. “It brought to the forefront problems with our mental health system and our capacity to prevent at least some of these tragic events,” he said. “And as a psychiatrist, I was at the same time all too aware of the potential backlash against mental health patients…. [W]e know that the vast amount of violence has no relation to mental illness. So we went to work on initiatives to remove the stigma still present against those with mental illness and to offer better treatment options for those affected. Shortly after Sandy Hook, we met with [Obama] administration officials in Washington to discuss a strategy to address gun regulation, mental illness, and public education,” Lazarus said. “We also believe strongly that physicians must be able to have to frank discussion with their patients and families about firearm safety issues and risks.”

To view a video interview with Lazarus at last month's APA annual meeting, click here.

(Image: Ted Grudzinski/AMA)

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