Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Couch in Crisis: Join the Fray!

I couldn't help but notice that it has become possible lately to lift recent editions of the Sunday New York Times with only a single hand. Not too long ago, the Sunday edition had a lot more reassuring heft to it.

If you are a print lover like me, it's hard to ignore the diminishing girth of most newspapers, magazines, and journals these days. Reeling from a sharp drop in advertising, many print publications have become fashionably lean. Even the mighty New York Times is not immune. As things go from bad to just totally terrible for the beleaguered newspaper industry, as a reporter from Forbes recently noted, headlines regularly announce the demise of venerable news publications.

Things aren't as dire for medical publications—although advertising support for medical journals has slipped in the past couple of years. According to industry sources, overall ad revenues for the multispecialty medical journals dropped by about 19% between 2007 and 2008. Among the psychiatric journals, advertising is down by about 8% for the same period.

This matters because fewer ads mean smaller issues and less clinical content that can be presented in each issue.

Psychiatric Times has also felt the impact. Although PT continues to enjoy its "most popular" psychiatric journal status among readers, the past several months have seen fewer pages of editorial content. We are still able to present a plethora of information . . . short news reports, insightful commentaries, and in-depth peer-reviewed clinical articles written by experts in the field. But we are increasingly focused on bringing to you online the PT you've always enjoyed in print—and then some.

Let me invite you to log on to http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/ and have a look around. Among the "extras" you'll find online (in addition to the articles that appear in each issue) are tips on managing your practice; guidelines for protecting yourself from malpractice; online symposia, with which you can earn CME credits; downloadable clinical scales; and "What's Your Opinion?" surveys.

Over the next few months, we'll be upgrading our Web site and adding more new features. Our goal is to make it a one-stop online community for all things psychiatric. For starters, we are introducing this blog—The Couch in Crisis—in which we hope you and your colleagues will air and share your views on issues important to psychiatrists.

I invite you to send us your comments about what you see as the key issues that currently face the practice of clinical psychiatry. Tell us what the most pressing challenges are that you face in your daily practice. Please don't hold back on telling colleagues why you choose—or do not choose—to continue to practice psychiatry.

We are kicking off that forum with an essay we recently received from Lawrence D. Blum, MD, a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist in private practice in Philadelphia and in Cherry Hill, NJ. Dr Blum's essay speaks in a light-hearted way to some changing trends in psychiatry. He begins: I used to be a doctor. Next I was a provider. Now, I'm a non-covered entity. I liked being a doctor—I still do. I never liked being a provider. But being a non-covered entity is a secret victory. I'll explain.

We've posted Dr Blum's essay on our Web site, where we hope to post your follow-up comments. By the way, your comments need not be as formal or as elegant as those of Dr Blum. We also welcome brief and informal views, comments, and opinions. Please send them to us.

We hope you like what you are seeing each month in PT—and we hope you'll like more of the PT that's heading your way via our Web site.

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