Last week was a long, intense week as we headed toward a more comprehensive public health shutdown. On behalf of the APA staff and board, I hope you’re all doing as well as possible, that your family and friends are doing okay, and that your students, colleagues, institutions, and communities are banding together in solidarity. I’m sure that you’re all doing whatever you can to help those who most need help, and I applaud and thank you for that. When we isolate ourselves, there’s an understandable tendency to turn our attention inward, to shrink our definition of what constitutes our community and limit it to the people that we see and hear on a daily basis. In a sense, this is good. We become less distracted and clearer about our priorities—our patients, and the people for whom we feel directly responsible. Our clinics and hospitals are going to become inundated, and we’re already seeing the negative effects of shortages in supplies, tests, beds, and ventilators. We have to focus.
But it’s also important to think about the people who might otherwise fall off our radar during this time—the employees at the restaurants and stores we used to frequent; the employees at our neighborhood schools; the students who’ve been sent home; the parents who are trying to figure out how to manage jobs, layoffs, and kids; the people who are still out there putting themselves at some level of risk on the front lines, not just at healthcare sites but at groceries, post offices, and other essential parts of our social fabric. I’m not arguing that the cure here is worse than the disease. What I’m saying is that the disease requires a response whose effects damage nearly every aspect of community life, like chemotherapy for a cancer. This is a time that requires from all of us an empathy that stretches us as broadly as we’ve ever stretched and asks us, despite our natural instinct to hunker down, to instead reach out—to smile more at each other, to say hello and please and thank you whenever the opportunity arises, to ask how we’re doing, to take the time to listen even when we think such time doesn’t exist. And maybe in doing so, we’ll rediscover some of the things about community that we had perhaps been taking a bit for granted.
In the meantime, I thought it was important to keep everyone updated on APA plans regarding the cancellation of PAS. We are in the process of working with the leaders of all APA programs to determine whether online programming is needed this year and, if so, what shape that will take, what resources it will need, and when it would occur. We envision gradual implementation of limited programming for some but not all programs throughout the summer and fall. In addition, APA award winners will receive their awards by mail and be celebrated online, and we’re developing processes for that. More broadly, PAS committees are meeting almost non-stop to figure out additional mitigation strategies, and we’ll relay them to you all as soon as they develop.
There is an opportunity here that, in the long term, could and should make the APA an even stronger and more vibrant organization. The APA Community, part of our new website, has the capacity to handle a number of APA activities and become an integral part of our ability to communicate within and across committees, programs, and the entire organization. We want the Community and the APA Connect, our mobile app, to be a vibrant, year-round meeting places for members, and we’re now in a position where their uses have become increasingly vital for the organization’s health. With your regions, SIGs, programs, and committees, I urge all members and leaders to figure out communication strategies that work for you and to make full use of what have to offer!
Please be good to yourselves and good to each other. It’s when we’re forced to be alone that we realize just how entangled we all really are, and how precious that entanglement is. Thank you for everything that you do!
All the best,