2016 APA presidential candidates answer questions about practice

The five candidates for the 2016 APA presidential election answered the following two questions pertaining to the future of professional practice and the APA Practice Organization (APAPO).

  1. The APAPO, a companion organization to the APA, advocates exclusively for professional practice. What will you do to support the development of non-due revenues and ensure the success of the APAPO?
  2. What do you believe are the most important opportunities and challenges in professional practice, and how would you address them?

The five candidates are (listing alphabetically):

  • Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD
  • Todd Finnerty, PsyD 
  • Kurt F. Geisinger, PhD 
  • Susan McDaniel, PhD 
  • Antonio Puente, PhD

To read each candidate's reply, click on their name below.

Candidates' statements reflect their own views and do not represent the position of APA or APAPO.

Daniel

The APAPO, a companion organization to the APA, advocates exclusively for professional practice. What will you do to support the development of non-due revenues and ensure the success of the APAPO?

APAPO, the practice organization of APA, needs resources to support advocacy for professional practice. Generating revenue has been a challenge since its inception.

Idea No. 1: We should invite colleagues involved in an array of professional practices to present ideas about the development of non-dues revenue strategies. Practitioner members of state, provincial and territorial psychological associations (SPTAs) and divisions can propose ways to create, design and market such ideas. Focusing on ideas from practitioners makes it more likely that they will become consumers. Engaging more effectively with the SPTAs and divisions can foster increased identification with APAPO.

Idea No. 2: We should send a call out to early career psychologists to solicit their ideas about how to first, recruit early career psychologists to become affiliated with APAPO, and second, to turn that affiliation into an APAPO standing committee to promote the generation of technology that can contribute to a range of practice venues. This call would be aimed at early career psychologists who are not affiliated with either divisions or SPTAs. The call for early career psychologists can appear in the Monitor.

The top-ranked proposals from both groups will be recognized at State Leadership Conference. APAPO can consider how these ideas may be developed as projects which can generate revenue for APAPO.

What do you believe are the most important opportunities and challenges in professional practice, and how would you address them?

The greatest single challenge facing our profession involves establishing ourselves as an integral player in the rapidly evolving health-care system. Our system operates as a business where physicians and insurance executives have driven financial decisions, too often “carving out” our services. However “citizen psychologists” are critically poised to influence and participate in the process. We must be in the room, at the table and often at the head of the table, when decisions are made at the local, state and national levels. This represents a major challenge, but one that we must take up to assure quality integrated health care for all Americans. Behavioral health care from primary care settings to social institutions, such as schools and prisons, must become a priority for psychological prevention and intervention.

Leadership skills and the areas of interest reflected in the 50-plus APA divisions will prove to be critical as psychologists bring to the table science, education and practice expertise in making critical decisions. Service on the boards and committees of organizations focusing on health presents viable options for “citizen psychologists.” Our field has the ability to make a difference every day in almost every way and we must take the lead in doing so.

Finnerty

The APAPO, a companion organization to the APA, advocates exclusively for professional practice. What will you do to support the development of non-due revenues and ensure the success of the APAPO?

Some APA members view APA as though its role was the same as a business league. In reality, it's a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Unfortunately, many members can't afford to join long lists of organizations. In addition, donating to charities like APA can be tough in these economic times. Therefore, let's allow psychologists to choose to join the 501(c)(6) APAPO without making charitable donations to APA. APAPO should have a separate board, elected directly by APAPO members, that's dedicated to fundraising and advocacy. If psychologists had the finances for only APA or APAPO, I'd prefer they join APAPO.

APAPO shouldn't just be an account where we send money and expect to “buy advocacy.” Funds are tight and APAPO will never simply spend its way to successful advocacy. When it comes to advocacy, “manpower” is more important than money. Let's reorganize APAPO to allow for much more member involvement on advocacy projects. We should feel engaged and invited to be part of an independent APAPO that advocates for all psychologists. We can also integrate APAPO more effectively with our 501(c)(6) state associations, including offering advocacy “boot camps” to enlist psychologists to fight for psychology. If members are engaged the revenue will follow.

What do you believe are the most important opportunities and challenges in professional practice, and how would you address them?

One of my personal priorities is allowing APAPO to advocate on behalf of the many psychologists who didn't have APA-accredited internships. A large percentage of psychologists shouldn't be excluded from employment at our largest employer. Visit our advocacy group at www.allpsychologists.org.

What is important to me may not even appear on the radar screen of someone else. Likewise, APAPO leaders may not always be aware of the challenges practitioners are facing. Let's create a rapid-response communication system where members can discuss important issues they're facing with insurers and other organizations. This Listserv would be free to all APAPO members and allow for a more in-depth discussion of advocacy issues.

We all want to advance psychology but we disagree on how. One thing setting me apart from other candidates is that they tend to cheerlead for prescription privileges; I do not. APAPO has a very limited budget and we must prioritize. Prescriptive authority is not a priority for me or most members. This prioritization means that national funding from APAPO for prescriptive authority lobbying should end; let's spend it on psychotherapy and assessment. RxP advocacy can also harm our other efforts by turning potential allies in to enemies. Visit www.toddfinnerty.com.

 

Geisinger

The APAPO, a companion organization to the APA, advocates exclusively for professional practice. What will you do to support the development of non-due revenues and ensure the success of the APAPO?

First, APAPO's relationship with and endorsement of the Trust is likely to be the most important partnership that APAPO has, at least presently. That relationship must be nurtured now that we have no formal, regulatory relationship with the Trust. We should continue to identify areas of shared interest and develop strategies to work together on these matters, as we have with telehealth. Second, we should look for other potential relationships with professional organizations that could be kindled in mutually beneficial ways. More formal relationships with state associations should be considered, for example. We should also solicit appropriate endorsements for appropriate compensation. Third, we do need to consider membership issues. The reasons why APAPO's membership has fallen need to be addressed. Moreover, we should broaden the focus of APAPO. Presently, it advocates and works almost solely for clinicians and health psychologists. It should work to advance and facilitate the work of school psychologists, industrial-organizational psychologists, and some health-related psychologists not presently appropriate for membership. Finally, the PAC that I helped to bring into the APAPO fold needs to be active in supporting politicians who can help psychology move forward in serving the health and mental health needs of today's society.

What do you believe are the most important opportunities and challenges in professional practice, and how would you address them?

Among the most important challenges are reimbursement for services and the changing nature of independent practice. Reimbursement for services demands continual attention in regard to the CPT codes that determine reimbursement rates. No issue is more central to the APAPO's mission, and while it would appear not to have been always front-and-center, it is now. The erosion of reasonable reimbursement policies has impacted practitioners and clients alike. The leaders of APAPO and APA at the highest levels must continue their involvement in these critical discussions. Independent practice has long been APAPO's primary focus and continues to be. While APAPO should continue to work on behalf of independent practitioners, ACA has “pushed” many medical and psychological practitioners to hospital and other organized care settings. APAPO must assist practitioners with this transition, should it be their choice and advantageous for them. APA's leadership must continue to focus on APAPO's fiscal concerns, as it has in recent years. We should also prepare Web-based videos aimed at graduate students in appropriate psychology programs to inform them of APAPO's importance, of its advocacy role, of the need for all members to participate to reap its full benefits and its essential, leading role for practitioners.

McDaniel

The APAPO, a companion organization to the APA, advocates exclusively for professional practice. What will you do to support the development of non-due revenues and ensure the success of the APAPO?

Non-due revenues can and must be generated for the financial health of the APAPO and the success of our members' practices. We must generate potential products and services that our members want and that only our members can access, such as:

  • Electronic health records for small practices that interface with large systems.
  • Continued access to HIPAA and governmental policies and their updates as necessary for sound practice.
  • Templates for policies, procedures and documents to start up a practice, reorganize an existing practice and close or sell a practice.
  • Online and in-person consultation and training for evidence-based treatments.
  • Ongoing access to updated clinical treatment guidelines.
  • Behavioral and mental health-related apps for general information.
  • Apps for evidence-based treatment planning, and interactive medication effects.
  • Virtual and paper products related to the next International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), with profits to be shared with the APAPO.
  • Webinars on increasing scope of practice (for example, entering integrated care, working with specific special populations), and skill enhancement (such as diagnostic instruction, reviewing or learning new instruments, new treatment approaches).
  • Consult to non-psychologists (eg, physicians, administrators, ACOs) about developing integrated care.

What do you believe are the most important opportunities and challenges in professional practice, and how would you address them?

The APAPO has closely followed state implementation of the Affordable Care Act and continues to educate members about opportunities and challenges. I propose bringing all stakeholders together, building alliances with medical and other health professional organizations. This will allow us to educate them about what is unique about psychologists, and help strengthen relationships for regulatory support, legislation and joint projects (such as reducing health disparities).

With regard to integrated care, we need to:

  • Support experienced members to continue successful independent practices.
  • Offer mid-career members educational opportunities so they can expand their practices and participate in health-care reform.
  • Offer students and early career psychologists professional and interprofessional trainings in integrated settings.

We must claim our place as leaders. Psychologists can function in many different roles: consultants on complex patients; educators about psychosocial problems and cultural competence; coaches on communication, leadership and team functioning; health outcomes and practice-based improvement researchers; supervisors of masters-level clinicians and care managers; trainers for evidence-based practices, and more.

The American Psychologist Special Issue on Primary Care and Psychology that I co-edited with a physician includes our article on primary care psychology competencies. We need to showcase materials from programs effective in teaching these competencies.

Puente

The APAPO, a companion organization to the APA, advocates exclusively for professional practice. What will you do to support the development of non-due revenues and ensure the success of the APAPO?

Without advocacy the profession of psychology is dead.

First, I would calibrate the important work that is done by the APAPO with members' needs. I have completed three electronic surveys (found at www.puenteforpresident.com). A more rigorous study with a more generalizable sample should be pursued by APAPO to make sure that the needs of its constituents align well with the trajectory and effort of the Practice Organization with the constituents' needs.

Two, there is no question that without funds advocacy cannot occur. Steps should be taken to educate those able to pay for the assessment about exactly what those assessments do for them. Whether it involves opening the firewall between the two “sides” of the Practice Directorate or simply educating others how hard APAPO works to ensure the future of professional psychology ought to be considered.

Third, revenue-generating opportunities heretofore not considered should be part of our discussion, including publication products, partnering with PQRS registries, and establishing fee-for-service products.

In summary, without advocacy the future of professional psychology is in serious peril. However, advocacy without economic support will affect the future for professional psychology and those we seek to understand and serve.

What do you believe are the most important opportunities and challenges in professional practice, and how would you address them?

In an electronic survey that I am presently conducting, the following were considered the top four challenges in order of importance:

  • Protect reimbursement.
  • Protect the doctoral degree as a standard for psychology licensure.
  • Address health care reform.
  • Protect and enhance psychology's scope of practice.

The results of this and related surveys are found in www.puenteforpresident.com .

In another completed electronic survey I recently completed of past APA presidential initiatives, one opportunity emerged as most important: integrative care. The four others that were highly ranked were:

  • Translating psychological science for the public.
  • Educating and engaging the next generation of psychologists.
  • Provide psychological services to the military.
  • Advancing psychological knowledge.

In terms of how I would and have address(ed) them, here are some examples. I have served on the AMA's CPT®, taught scores of undergraduate and graduate students, founded a free mental health clinic and published eight books, 76 chapters and over 100 articles. Finally, I have maintained a private practice since 1982.

What I have done for over 25 years is a legacy of putting psychology in its rightful place in health care. It is time for psychology.

Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) copyright 2011 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.