Kim Dixon, PhD
I have been involved with Division 38 for many, many years, but I must say that the energy among our membership at present is palpable. Much of the credit for this renewed energy goes to our immediate Past-President, Kevin Masters, whose presidential initiatives focused on inclusion and engagement within the Division. As a result, many of our early career psychologists (ECPs) are newly active and engaged under the mentorship of Travis Lovejoy, Chair of the Early Career Professionals Council. Belinda Borelli and the Membership Committee are recruiting new members and providing networking opportunities in communities across the country to enhance engagement and retention, and Justin Nash, one of our Members-at-Large, is spearheading a Long Range Planning project that will add an important dimension to the direction the Division takes in the near future. While we could devote an entire issue of The Heath Psychologist to the many activities of all members of the Division leadership, suffice it to say that the current synergy of the leadership efforts will sustain our Division for many years forward.
As many of you know, my presidential initiatives focus on defining health psychology and demonstrating our value as we move headlong toward a new healthcare environment. How we come out on the other end of healthcare reform hinges in large part on how we educate and train the health psychologists of the future. Within the broader professional education arena, there are expectations for competency-based education. That is, merely “doing” is no longer acceptable as a proxy measure of competence. Because health psychology is a specialty area of professional psychology, we must change the way in which we train and educate future health psychologists, and we must communicate clearly the value of doctoral training in interprofessional research and clinical practice.
A recently-published book, Specialty Competencies in Clinical Health Psychology (2014), authored by two Division members, Kevin Larkin and Elizabeth Klonoff (Past-President), provides an excellent resource for those of us who have been around the block a few times, as well as anyone interested in current trends in training and education. Besides describing the changing face of professional education in general, Drs. Larkin and Klonoff (2014) review the scientific bases that undergird our interventions and clearly articulate the recently-delineated foundational and functional competencies that must be mastered to practice as a health psychologist. Now that the expected competencies unique to health psychology have been clearly described, we must turn toward broad dissemination to training programs, students, and our publics.
As alluded to above, there is much to be gained professionally in being able to demonstrate the value of doctoral training in health psychology. From a clinical perspective, one important way to validate our unique qualifications as doctoral-level providers in healthcare settings is by obtaining board certification by the American Board of Clinical Health Psychology (ABCHP) of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). You might be surprised to learn that a relatively recent survey of psychologists practicing in academic medical centers and employed at medical schools found that only 22 percent of respondents were board certified by any ABPP board – and less than three percent of those were boarded in Clinical Health Psychology (Robiner, Dixon, Miner & Hong, 2010, 2012). While the merits of board certification in general might be argued by some, board certification for our medicine colleagues is the rule rather than the exception; thus, we risk losing credibility within these environments if we are not board certified. Indeed, lack of boarding may contribute to the low rates of psychologists who are full members of the medical staff at their facility (Hong, Robiner, Dixon & Miner, 2012). To learn more about ABPP in Clinical Health Psychology, visit http://www.abpp.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3353.
In closing, please rest assured that the Division 38 Executive Committee (EC) is closely monitoring these and others issues of similar import. Weekly conference calls among the President, Past-president (Kevin Masters), President-Elect (Alex Rothman), and Barbara Keeton, our esteemed Administrative Officer, provide a venue for discussion of activities of the Division as well as issues that have the potential to affect us as health psychologists in our numerous roles as educators, researchers and clinicians. Additionally, each President has an ongoing dialogue with each of the chairs of the Division’s numerous Councils and Committees via conference calls and email, ensuring ongoing and open communication within all aspects of the Division.
Now, I will leave you to enjoy another stellar edition of The Health Psychologist, edited by Andrea Bradford!
Hong, B. A., Robiner, W. N., Dixon, K. E.; & Miner, J. L. (2012). Psychologists’ medical staff membership in academic healthcare: Past, present, and future challenges. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 1, 50-57.
Larkin, K. T. & Klonoff, E. A. (2014). Specialty competencies in clinical health psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Robiner, W. N., Dixon, K.E., Miner, J. L., & Hong, B.A. (2010). Hospital privileges for psychologists in the era of competencies and increased accountability. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 17, 301-314. doi: 10.1007/s10880-010-9203-6
Robiner, W. N., Dixon, K.E., Miner, J. L., & Hong, B.A. (2012). Board certification in psychology: insights from medicine and hospital psychology. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 1, 30-40. doi: 10.1007/s10880-011-9280-1.