September 6, 2023
Carlene MacMillan, MD
In this conversation, we delve into:
In an era marked by global upheaval, Dr. Brendel's leadership at the APA during the pandemic showcased her resilience and adaptability. She highlights, "There was a lot of unexpected travel, and a lot of work really holding together our policy and getting APA back into person fully and into the post-pandemic future."
From starting as a research fellow to navigating the corridors of power in Washington D.C., Dr. Brendel's rise to the president of the APA is nothing short of inspiring. Overcoming personal anxieties about being "in the right place at the right time", her journey exemplifies dedication, foresight, and growth.
The Goldwater rule, which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on public figures they have not examined, has seen its relevance surge in today's political atmosphere. As Dr. Brendel puts it, "Nothing really shifted, although there were a lot of misconceptions about the Goldwater rule." This emphasizes the delicate balance psychiatrists must navigate in such charged times.
Dr. Brendel's leadership was instrumental in ensuring the APA's commendable strides towards diversity, equity, and inclusion. The summer of 2020, marked by significant social movements, underscored the importance of addressing structural racism and inequities.
As Dr. Brendel mentions, "The summer of 2020 in particular really focused a lens on structural racism and inequities more broadly within our society." The APA responded by "forming a structural racism task force, hiring consultants, working with the board to lead, and really coming up with a set of measurable outcomes and recommendations."
This proactive approach showcases the association's commitment to fostering an inclusive environment for all its members.
Discussing the transformative PsychPRO Registry, Dr. Brendel states, "One of the other areas I'm particularly interested in that the APA is involved in is their PsychPRO Registry." Dr. Brendel elucidates, "The registry aims to collate data, not just from psychiatrists but from various health systems, paving the way for comprehensive research and insights."
Within this context, collaborative care models have emerged as an indispensable bridge, connecting psychiatrists with primary care providers to achieve integrated patient care. At the heart of this approach lies a consultation model where psychiatrists collaborate with primary care physicians or pediatricians, offering guidance and expertise.
The cornerstone of this model is its focus on measurement-based care. Dr. Brendel notes, "Through those kinds of models, it's measurement-based care. We've seen really good data, both on outcomes, improved outcomes, and the improved ability of a single psychiatrist to participate in the mental health care of more than one patient at a time." In essence, collaborative care models, backed by comprehensive data documented in the PsychPRO Registry, have the potential to reshape the landscape of mental health care, ensuring a broader reach and optimized patient outcomes.
Dr. Brendel, once a skeptic of telemedicine, shares, "I'm now doing exclusively telepsychiatry." Her excitement about the "explosion of technology, innovation, and opportunity" showcases the potential of technology in shaping the future of psychiatric care. She further emphasizes the importance of "earning trust through transparency and doing good work" when collaborating with corporations in the tech sector.
In an age where ethical dilemmas abound, Dr. Brendel underscores the significance of comprehensive ethics training for new medical students. As she mentions, "All medical students have a required ethics and professionalism core competency, as well as teaching requirements."
In our enlightening conversation with Dr. Rebecca Brendel, we've traversed the terrains of ethical considerations, leadership, and the future trajectory of psychiatry and the APA. Her insights provide a window into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the field.
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