IN THIS ISSUE

2011 ELC: Supporting graduate psychology education

We recap the four-day agenda from the 2011 Education Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

By Mary Gregerson, PhD

APA Division 34, Society for Environment, Population, and Conservation Psychology, selected me as their representative to the four-day APA Education Leadership Conference (ELC) from September 10 - 13, 2011, in Washington, D.C. ELC focuses around advocacy and the interface between education and public policy. In 2011 the overall theme of the conference was multidisciplinary enterprises like teaching and research.

The Agenda

The four-day agenda included presentations, small-group discussions, and receptions for attendees as well as advocacy meetings with select Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill from the attendee’s home state. Presenters and their topics included:

  • Linda B. Smith, PhD, Chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University Bloomington: Advancing Science and Challenges to Departments and to Graduate Training in Research

  • Carol A. Aschenbrener, MD, Executive Vice President, Association of American Medical Colleges: Core Competencies for Interprofessional Practice

  • Bonnie Spring, PhD, ABPP, Professor of Preventive Medicine, Psychology, and Psychiatry, Northwestern University: Update on the Science of Team Science

  • Susan Elrod, PhD, Executive Director, Project Kaleidoscope, Association of American Colleges and Universities: Interdisciplinary Learning in STEM Disciplines

  • Mary J.S. Roth, PhD, Associate Provost for Academic Operations, Lafayette College: Interdisciplinary Teaching Practices: Opportunities and Challenges

  • Debra Rowe, PhD, President, U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development: Creating Collaborative Partnerships and Projects

  • Howard Gadlin, PhD, Ombudsman, National Institutes of Health and L. Michelle Bennett, PhD, Deputy Scientific Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health: Leading in the Era of Team Science and Collaboration

Discussion Groups and their facilitators were:

  • Training for Team Science, Bonnie Spring, PhD, ABPP, Professor of Preventive Medicine, Psychology, and Psychiatry, Northwestern University

  • Training for Primary Care, Nancy Ruddy, PhD, Faculty, Mountainside Family Practice Residency

  • Interdisciplinary Research Careers, Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD, ABPP, President-Elect, American Psychological Association

  • Academic Administration Issues, Linda B. Smith, PhD, Chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University – Bloomington

  • Interdisciplinary Teaching, Mary J.S. Roth, PhD, Associate Provost for Academic Operations, Lafayette College and Debra Rowe, PhD, President, U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development

  • Technology for Collaboration, Sue Frantz, MA, Professor, Highline Community College, with Division 34 represented by Mary Gregerson, PhD, Division 34 Treasurer

  • Promoting Productive Disagreement While Containing Conflict in Teams, L. Michelle Bennett, PhD, Deputy Scientific Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH, DHHS and Howard Gadlin, PhD, Ombudsman, National Institutes of Health

  • The Integration of Behavioral Health in Community Health Center, Dennis Freeman, PhD, Chief Executive Office, Cherokee Health Systems; Gilbert Newman, PhD, Director of Clinical Training, Wright Institute; and Seiji Hayashi, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration

Since I attended the Technology for Collaboration Discussion Group, details can be included in this report. Special mention was made of Dr. Pauline Wallin’s chapter “Internet Research Strategies for Finding High-Quality Content” in the 2011 Technology Innovations in Behavioral Education volume I edited in 2011 based upon a symposium “Technology Innovations in Graduate and Medical Education” presented at APA 2010 in San Diego, CA. Other excellent electronics-based strategies were mentioned. For instance, certain programs facilitate multi-disciplinary collaboration by providing a website with a central file to which all authors have access. Changes on the document are archived, and are available to all authors who can also change the record in a tracked fashion with earlier versions still available.

The Leadership Education Training

Overview of Legislative Issues and Advocacy for Novices, presented by Nina Levitt, EdD, Associate Executive Director, Government Relations, APA Education Directorate, who was assisted by:

  • Jennifer Smulson, Senior Legislative & Federal Affairs Officer, APA Education Directorate

  • Arielle Eiser, Legislative & Federal Affairs Assistant, APA Education Directorate

From the APA Education Directorate, Nina Levitt, EdD, Associate Executive Director, focused attendees mainly upon GPE with the most background supplied on this topic. Yet, we also dipped into our own expertise to talk briefly (very briefly—these legislative meetings are 15-20 minutes) about things like community mental health centers and delivery of services to underserved populations (actually these points are tied to GPE, too). We were cautioned, though, to stay “on focus” rather than getting too diluted. Scientists will smile to know that we are encouraged to tell anecdotes since such stories seem to hold more sway than a barrage of technical information.

What to Expect on Your Hill Visit and Preparing for Successful Hill Visits was presented by Christopher Kush, MPP, President, Soapbox Consulting and Sheila Lane Forsyth, MEd, Advocacy/Grassroots Consultant.

Capitol Hill meetings occurred in pairs, and my partner was Michael Roberts, Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.  The issue we advocated was renewal and preferred escalation of support for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program.  The GPE Program represents the only federal program solely dedicated to the education and training of psychologists.  Competitive grants are awarded to APA-accredited doctoral, postdoctoral, and internship programs to work with other health professionals in the provision of mental and behavioral health services to underserved populations. Subsequently, this program received full support in the 2012 federal budget.

We spoke mainly about GPE with the staffs of legislators from our home state of Kansas, that is, Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran as well as Representatives Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins. Specifically, we focused upon graduate education dimensions of child clinical issues (Dr. Roberts’s specialty) and environmental health psychology concerns especially related to war veterans and their families (my specialty). We were fortunate to be photographed with Senator Roberts and to discuss GPE in depth with Rep. Jenkins. All legislators were invited to visit Dr. Roberts’s child clinical laboratory to see firsthand graduate education. I furnished legislators and their staff a copy of my 2011 APA Conference invited address, “Creative Arts Approach of Poetry Therapy Reveals and Heals the Heart and Mind of a Wounded Warrior,” which is available by emailing me.

Interestingly, 10 years ago I did similar advocacy with the APA State Leadership Conference. I must say that my advocacy skills showed a gargantuan leap forward, although I had an excellent partner and mentor in Michael Roberts, University of Kansas Professor of Child Clinical Psychology, who regularly advocates on behalf of APA. Since I lived in the DC area for 25 years, I am familiar and comfortable with the legislative sector and count a number of members among my friends, past clients, and good colleagues. Therefore, our comfort with our audience, confidence in the value of APA issues, and commitment specifically for the issue (GPE) translated into high interest for those staff and legislators talking with us.

We followed up the conference meeting with correspondence with legislators and their staffs. One letter to the legislators and their staff was sent immediately with the inclusion of the invited talk noted above. Then final letters were sent during the week of final appropriations deliberations to ensure a continued presence and interest in legislators’ priorities. Complimentary copies of my book on technology advances in post-graduate education accompanied these letters.

Thank you, Division 34, for this opportunity to discuss education priorities advocated by APA, and to bring the concerns of Division 34 before other education leaders and my legislators. Besides being very informative and stimulating, this experience was enjoyable.