The PRMS Blog

AAGP – Supporting the Future of a Specialty

It had been cold and rainy in Washington, DC when my colleague, Remy Palmer, RPLU, and I left for the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) meeting in Hawaii this past March. Our long plane ride was worth it, not only for the warm weather of Honolulu, but to also catch up with several long-time PRMS clients and make new friends in the field of geriatric psychiatry. The tropical winds were a nice change of pace for us and having the evening reception outside so we could watch the sunset was a stroke of genius by the organizers. We were thrilled to be there, as this year PRMS was the first corporate sponsor to help fund the AAGP Scholars Program for psychiatry residents and medical students. When we were asked for support, we did not hesitate. Not only does this program provide funding for medical students and psychiatry residents to attend the AAGP Annual Meeting, but it also provides a specific educational program geared to trainees during the meeting.

AAGP is faced with meeting the challenge of an expanding population of older Americans and growing the geriatric psychiatric specialty to meet that population’s needs. For over 30 years, PRMS has supported psychiatry on many levels including a focus on residents and initiatives such as the Scholars Program that provides attention to psychiatric specialties. We had the opportunity to meet with the scholars we supported and learned that without our sponsorship they would not have been able to attend the meeting. Other residents commented that the AAGP Scholars Program support and education enhanced their decision to ultimately choose geriatric psychiatry as their specialty.

Next year the theme of the 2019 AAGP meeting will be “Preparing and Partnering for the Future of Geriatric Mental Health.” PRMS will be there once again to support this mission and the future of this specialty. We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!

Megan Jones is Head of Strategic Product and Sales Analytics and joined PRMS in 1997.

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Preparing for Private Practice

Starting or joining a private practice is an exciting time, but it can also be risky.  An essential way to protect your professional reputation and reduce risk is to obtain comprehensive medical professional liability insurance. In this post I will address some important steps you can take to help create and maintain a successful practice.

Build good relationships

If you are entering into, or are already in, a private practice, you should forge and maintain relationships with an experienced risk manager, colleague, attorney, accountant, professional organization and trusted insurance professional.  PRMS licensed insurance professionals utilize extensive experience to provide sound advice to cover your risks and explain complex insurance options.

Cover your psychiatry services

Medical professional liability policies and risk management consultation can be generic for all specialties.  But your practice is not generic – and neither is our program.  This is why our policy, in addition to covering for standard psychiatric treatments, also covers services such as telepsychiatry, evaluations, forensic psychiatry (e.g., expert testimony), Peer or Utilization Review, routine medical care incidental to psychiatry services, publications, teaching, clinical trials and emergency medical treatment without the expectation of compensation.

Know your risk tolerance

Each time you contemplate the range of options between the “floor” of the standard of care and optimal care, it is imperative that you not only identify and evaluate the associated risks, but also recognize your tolerance for those risks. PRMS clients have complimentary access to risk managers who will advise you and help lower your risk.

You can read more about preparing for a private practice here.  Contact us to start building a trusted relationship with an insurance professional by calling 800-245-333 or emailing

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2017 New Jersey Psychiatric Association Program for Excellence

Excellence can be defined in many ways. For example, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines excellence as “very good of it’s kind: eminently good.” Excellence is not always rewarded and most of the time is not performed with intent. Therefore, it is nice when organizations notice and honor the person completing the excellent action(s).

The New Jersey Psychiatric Association (NJPA) is one of those organizations, recognizing outstanding members for their contribution to the field of mental health and the association with a Program for Excellence Awards Luncheon. On November 19, 2017, NJPA presented the Remarkable Achievement Award to Cheryl Kennedy, MD and honored Immediate Past President Consuelo Cagande, MD at Pines Manor in Edison, New Jersey.

The 2016 Distinguished Fellows William Harvey Carson, MD and Inua Momodu, MD, and Distinguished Life Fellows Usha Bhatt, MD, Lee Hindin, MD, Philippe Khouri, MD, and Daniel van Kammen, MD were also honored at this event.

Professional Risk Manabement Services (PRMS) was pleased to sponsor the PRMS Resident Fellow Member Achievement Award. Melanie Smith, PRMS Senior Vice-President Client Relations, presented awards to Drs. Jasmin Lagman and Stephen Mateka. Dr. Lagman received the award for her Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Psychiatry and Dr. Mateka for his Outstanding Contributuion to the New Jersey Psychiatric Association.

PRMS congratulates all the award recipients and honorees and we thank them for their excellent service to mental health! We also applaud NJPA for encouraging and recognizing member achievements.

For more about NJPA, visit

From left to right: Jennifer Contorno, NJPA Member Services Coordinator, Stephen Mateka, DO, Jasmin Lagman, MD, and Patricia DeCotiis, Esq., NJPA Executive Director.

From left to right: Randall Gurak, MD, NJPA President, Jasmin Lagman, MD, and Melanie Smith, PRMS Senior Vice President, Client Relations.

To learn more about the superior insurance program and comprehensive services offered by PRMS, click here.

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For every referral, we donate to mental health-June is Double Donation Month!

When PRMS implemented the “Refer a Colleague” program in 2013, we hoped it would grow into a mutually beneficial initiative or as we sometimes describe it, when altruism and capitalism join forces.  Over the last five years, we have donated nearly $13,000 to 65 mental health organizations. The program is steadily our number one source for new business with over 500 recommended referrals.

“Refer a Colleague” was created to show our appreciation to psychiatrists who refer and recommend PRMS to their colleagues by giving back and supporting the mental health community. For every referral PRMS receives, we provide a $25 donation to state psychiatric associations, NAMI or national specialty psychiatric associations of the referrer’s choice – whether or not an insurance policy is purchased.

In appreciation of the referrals and to build on the success of this program, we are pleased to announce that all donations provided to PRMS will be doubled to $50 each through June 30, 2018!

Please visit to learn more about the program and start earning donations today. Thank you for your help in our continuing effort to be of support to the behavioral health community.

Your privacy is our priority. Information provided by you and your referral will not be shared with or sold to third parties.

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Guest Blog: We are needed

As a part of PRMS’ ongoing commitment to behavioral health, we invited James Bouknight, MD, PhD, in Charleston, SC, to be featured as one of our guest bloggers this month. 

The growth in the geriatric population both in the United States and worldwide presents issues and opportunities for the medical community in general and psychiatry in particular.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the percentage of people 65 and older worldwide is expected to double to 1.6 billion by 2050.  In the United States the numbers reflect the global trend with a population of 88 million geriatric individuals by 2050. Even more remarkable is the world growth in the “oldest old,” people age 80 and over, which is expected to triple to almost 447 million by 2050. The reasons for the dramatic growth in the geriatric population are multiple: extended lifetimes, decreases in risk behaviors such as tobacco use and advances in controlling infectious diseases all contribute to the growth of the geriatric population. 

In the United States, a major contributor to the growth of the geriatric population is the aging of the Baby Boomers, that group born between approximately 1946 and 1964. Living longer is not necessarily synonymous with living better. With increasing age cardiovascular, endocrine, renal, orthopedic and pulmonary conditions tend to worsen.  In my work, I observe increases in mood disorders and, most particularly, with neurocognitive disorders caused by Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and other less common causes of neurocognitive disorders.  An often neglected aspect of psychiatry in the aging population is substance abuse which is becoming more prevalent in the geriatric population as the Baby Boomers age.

As a former program director of a geriatric psychiatry fellowship program and teacher to our general psychiatry residents and medical students, I was often asked “Why become a geriatric psychiatrist?” Many people both in and out of medicine see treating geriatric patients as more of a burden than an opportunity. I have had my students say that geriatric psychiatry is depressing “because your patients die.”  It then became incumbent upon me to point out that ALL of our patients die, it’s only a question of when. My response to the question of why become a geriatric psychiatrist is multiple:

1. Every part of our patients’ lives has value and the privilege of being a participant in their lives is an honor. Children and middle aged adults are not necessarily less challenging than geriatric patients.

2. In geriatric psychiatry, the patient’s family and caregivers are usually a part of the treatment. This gives us the opportunity to be a part of the environment in which the patient lives rather than a 55 minute session once every three months as is often the case with adults.

3. We are needed. The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry estimates that an additional 2,500 geriatric psychiatrists will be needed by 2030. Geriatric patients received most of their psychiatric care from primary care providers, physicians, nurse practitioners or physicians’ assistants. While these non-psychiatrist providers do their best to treat their geriatric patients, they are not specialists and suboptimal care is often the result.

4. Financial security is guaranteed in a field with such a dramatic shortage of physicians. Medicare is the primary payer for geriatric patients but many physicians choose to “opt out” of Medicare and only accept cash payment. In either case, incomes are reasonable and above those of many medical specialties.

5. There are innovative ways of delivering medical care to geriatric patients which are outside of the usual office based practice. One of the most effective ways of distributing our expertise in geriatric psychiatry is through Telepsychiatry which is especially important in rural, underserved areas.

6. Career satisfaction should rank high in the reasons to choose a specialty. The data indicate that geriatric psychiatrists report high rates of career satisfaction than many other subspecialties.

7. Research into neurocognitive disorders and treatments is very active with new approaches to these illnesses being developed on many fronts. This gives the geriatric psychiatrist the opportunity to participate in research which could benefit our patients.

8. Finally, the satisfaction of being a part of a patient’s life makes geriatric psychiatry particularly rewarding. These patients have experienced aspects of life that we may never experience.  I have had the honor of treating members of “The Greatest Generation” and they have taught me about life and resilience.

Although I am “semi-retired” now, I am still active in geriatric psychiatry.  I serve as an expert witness for both defense and plaintiff in legal proceeding.  I also participate in evaluations of geriatric patients for the probate court system.  These are usually determinations of the need for a guardian and/or conservator to protect the interests of the geriatric patient.  Physical, emotional and financial abuse of older individuals is rampant in our society and we as geriatric psychiatrists are the advocates for our patients.  I can truly say that geriatric psychiatry provided me with career satisfaction that I don’t believe I would have received from another medical specialty. 


James Bouknight, MD, PhD

Dr. James Bouknight earned a doctor of medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina. Prior to his medical degree, he received a bachelor of arts in economics from Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina; a master of arts in economics from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

After serving a residency at William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute, Columbia, South Carolina, Dr. Bouknight was employed by the Columbia Area Mental Health Center and WJB Dorn Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Columbia, South Carolina; and Charter Rivers Hospital, West Columbia, South Carolina. During five years at Charter Rivers Hospital he served as Director of the Partial Hospitalization Program, Director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Service and president of the medical staff. Dr. Bouknight joined the faculty of the USC School of Medicine in 1993, and was named Director of Geriatric Psychiatry in 2004.

Board certified in psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry, Dr. Bouknight has added qualifications in geriatric psychiatry. His special interests are in the treatment of dementias and mood disorders.

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