This year’s recipient of 2015 Nathan Perry Career Service Award is Dr. John Robinson . This award was conceived to honor those who have made significant contributions to Division 38 and the advancement of health psychology as a field. I have known Dr. Robinson for decades and am most familiar with his knowledge, skills and attitude toward our profession.
John is a pioneer and one of the proverbial “grandparents” of the field of clinical health psychology in the US. He is a long standing mentor for young students who wish to learn the clinical and administrative craft of being a psychologist in an academic health center. His CV is replete with “firsts” in our field:
- First African American psychologist in the Air Force
- First African American psychologist in the Navy
- Long-standing senior faculty/administrator in a Department of Surgery (Howard University)
He has written widely on health psychology topics, with particular reference to diversity in the provision of services and career advancement. APA has recognized John with the Stanley Sue Award for Distinguished Contributions to Diversity, and the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers awarded him the Joseph Matarazzo Award for distinguished service and contributions to clinical health psychology, their highest honor bestowed to him from a very competitive field of nominees.
John is board certified in both clinical and clinical health psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), but in addition has served as president of both boards, a measure of the respect his colleagues afford him. I can attest that his presidency of the ABPP Health Psychology board was transformative in reorganizing and revitalizing what had become a rather static enterprise.
His modeling of what a psychologist can do in the jurisdiction of medicine, whether serving on the Board of Trustees of two universities, in the military or the Public Health Service, has been illustrative and a GPS for early career health psychologists looking for a guidepost to learn what is possible for them. His service to our profession is long standing, of high quality and unfailingly outstanding.
Perhaps John’s strongest suit is that regardless of his almost legendary status in the development of clinical health psychology in the US, he has remained dedicated to the grooming and nurturance of students, whether his own or those who seek him out for guidance and support. Never one to withhold support and wisdom from a student or ECP, he is open and approachable to young psychologists and generous with his time and expertise. He is never too busy to answer emails or calls, to take students to lunch or dinner to discuss their career aspirations, or to speak directly to their needs and ambitions during presentations.
Dr. Robinson is an educator of physicians and psychologists, a role model who has had an interprofessional, team-based approach to education, training and clinical services long before the term “interprofessionalism” came into vogue.
As a clinician, Dr. Robinson’s faculty appointments in the departments of psychiatry and surgery at Howard University Medical School and Hospital reflect the respect his colleagues have for his day-to-day contributions to quality patient care.
Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Robinson has been a tireless advocate and mentor on behalf of ethnic and gender minorities in Clinical Health Psychology. Ethnic and gender diversity within our field has been a major professional goal and accomplishment for him. As a result of Dr. Robinson’s substantial efforts, future minority physicians have a better understanding and deeper appreciation of the crucial role of health psychologists in both primary and tertiary healthcare.
John Robinson is a proverbial “man for all seasons,” who has the academic credentials, the clinical acumen, and the professional dedication to seamlessly fit the requirements of those who developed the Nathan Perry Award. Nate was very fond of John and had great respect for him; knowing them both I believe each would be honored by his selection for this honor.
John C. Linton, PhD, ABPP
West Virginia University/Charleston