President’s Column

Justin M. Nash, PhD

Justin M. Nash, PhD

Justin M. Nash, PhD

I am very excited to begin serving as President of the Society for Health Psychology. After 25 years in health psychology internship and postdoctoral training at Brown University, I recently became Professor and Head of the interdisciplinary Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Connecticut.

I appreciate you making the Society for Health Psychology a professional home. We are an inclusive home: regardless of whether you are a student or a professional in your early-, mid-, or later-career stage.  We believe firmly that there is strength in diversity.  If you have an interest in health psychology, and especially if you bring a unique perspective, you belong here.

As the President of the Society for Health Psychology, I am humbled to stand on the shoulders of the giants who have built health psychology and this Society over the past 40 years. Today we are a strong and vibrant organization.  Our Society – and its Board – is fortunate to be guided by the combined efforts of established leaders, engaged early-career professionals, and active student members.  In many ways, I see myself as a steward in this position, hoping to leave it stronger than what I received from my predecessor Dawn Wilson, before turning it over to my successor Nancy Ruddy.

I believe in serving our members, and having our members use their expertise to improve the health and well-being of the larger society. In research, we advance the science of health psychology.  In education and training, we promote competency-based approaches in developing the next generation of specialists in health psychology.  In policy and advocacy, we disseminate health psychology and its impact to the broader communities, including professionals and the public.  We do not work in isolation.  We both lead, and partner with, other like-minded organizations within and outside of our profession to benefit the public good.

My priorities for this year revolve around the ongoing debate in our country about addressing some of our nation’s most costly health needs that burden individuals, families, communities, and society. We are all aware that disparities in health – and health care access – are major contributors to costs and burden.  There is an opportunity for our organization and its members to have a role in better understanding and addressing the health needs of those who are most impacted by health disparities – those in the various underserved communities.  Many members of our organization, in science, practice, and training, work with socioculturally diverse and under-resourced individuals.  We know the richness we experience but also the unique challenges we face.  The more we share with each other what we know, the greater our overall impact will be.  As part of this effort, we have an opportunity in our organization to hear from our current leaders who understand and address the health needs of underserved communities.  I also believe it is important for us to bring new voices into our leadership who can also help us better speak to the needs of the underserved.

Our Program Chair, Stephanie Fitzpatrick, is actively working on planning an outstanding 40th Program for the Society for Health Psychology, August 9-12, 2018 in San Francisco.  We look forward to engaging speakers who will contribute to our understanding of the benefits and challenges in working with diverse underserved communities, including in integrated care settings.

I look forward to working closely with our Executive Committee members, our Board members, and our Administrative Officer, Barbara Keeton, over this next year. Most importantly, I look forward to hearing from and working with you – our organization’s members — so that together we can continue to build on the important work we do in health psychology.

Justin M. Nash, PhD
President
justin.nash@uconn.edu