The American Psychosomatic Society has been my professional home for more than 20 years. It is where I find inspiration for my work, am enriched by a diverse professional network, continually gain new knowledge, and feel both pride and hope for our ever-expanding science, contributions and impact. So, it is with gratitude for all that I reap from this organization, its annual meeting and its journal, that I serve as your President for 2019-2020.
The work of APS is guided by five core values, namely, Scientific Rigor; Clinical Relevance; Multidisciplinary Collaboration; Membership Diversity; and Nurturing Community. These core values, articulated in the prior strategic planning process that occurred in late 2015 remain relevant today, and underlie the Society’s primary goals, which are to 1) promote and sustain scientific excellence in psychosomatic medicine; 2) translate our scientific findings for clinical application and relevance; 3) grow and nurture a vibrant, diverse membership; and 4) ensure sustainability of the Society. Under my leadership this year, the Council is updating the strategic plan, outlining new strategies that can propel our goals forward. We will have more information about the updated plan in the coming months. You should know that there is particular energy amongst our team to bring recognition and opportunities forward for mid-career members of APS, building on the many successes of past initiatives that have developed many welcomed and strong activities for early career members. Additionally, with a Council-approved Communications Plan that is enhancing our website and will bring to fruition an interactive APS app for smartphones and devices to be utilized year-round, we anticipate more opportunities to enhance the dissemination, translation and impact of our work.
In my work at the University of Minnesota, I am immersed in the issues and challenges related to healthy equity, diversity and inclusion. I bring this lens to my role as APS President, and thus, I am particularly excited that the theme for the 2020 APS Annual Meeting is “Achieving Health Equity: Opportunities for Psychosomatic Science.” For some, this theme may come as a surprise, as you may not have previously identified your work as health equity-focused. However, know that nearly all of the leading causes of death and the chronic health conditions that we in APS study disproportionately affect low income, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and/or racial/ethnic minorities in the US and across the globe. The reasons for these health disparities are complex, of course. But the science of psychosomatic medicine can bring unique knowledge and skills to understanding and, importantly, mitigating disparities in health and promoting health equity. John Ruiz, our Program Chair for the 2020 meeting, has provided an update in this newsletter on the meeting planning process to date and also announced some of the featured Keynote speakers. He and his organizing committee are putting together what promises to be a vibrant meeting with nationally and internationally regarded leaders in health disparities research. The abstract submission website is open, with abstracts due on Friday, October 11th. I strongly urge you to attend the meeting and also to invite your colleagues who may be doing work relevant to health equity issues but who are not APS members to consider joining us in Long Beach. We aim to have our highest attendance yet (can we get to 700 attendees?!) and welcome multi-disciplinary diversity to the conversation.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or ideas for Council, your interest in serving on one of our many committees, or if there is any other APS issue you wish to discuss.
Sue Everson-Rose, PhD, MPH
President, APS 2019/20