Robert E. McGrath, PhD

What is it about you that would make practitioners want to vote for you?

With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the U.S. healthcare system is entering into a period of radical change. Practitioners need leaders who understand the challenges and opportunities that face us now, and will face us over the next 10 years. As a licensed psychologist with 25 years of clinical experience, I remember when managed care was a concept few psychologists understood or cared about. Now I see how our failure to address the issues effectively then has resulted in challenges to the viability of traditional practice as a career choice today. This time we must do better. For the last 10 years I have dedicated myself to political action in the service of ensuring professional opportunities for clinicians. I have been at the forefront of psychologists’ involvement in pharmacotherapy and integrated care, because I believe both are essential to the future of practice. I founded the Division 38 Integrated Primary Care Committee, serve on the board of the Pharmacotherapy Division, and have advised numerous state associations on these issues. I have helped write bills and guidelines, testified to legislators, and developed advocacy toolkits. The issues we face are political and economic, and addressing them requires leaders who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work with the state associations to achieve political ends. I have been in the trenches for independent practice, and I will continue to fight to ensure our future as a profession.

The APAPO is the advocacy arm for professional practice. What will you do to insure its success?

We face multiple challenges. The lawsuits involving the Practice Assessment threaten to undermine our capacity to lobby for ourselves even further. Clinicians already in practice have suffered under managed care, and clinicians of the future enter the field at a time of great uncertainty in healthcare. We need a multi-pronged strategy for addressing these challenges. The immediate goal will be to initiate a campaign educating psychologists about the need to contribute time and money for advocacy. Anyone who is concerned about the future of practice needs to be part of the solution, and if everyone contributes then the burden need not be great. I know from personal experience that psychologists will give if they see the value in doing so; the task is to focus our efforts on initiatives that demonstrate clear value. The intermediate task will be to advocate for current practitioners. This will require taking advantage of the full lobbying capacities of the practice organization as a 501(c)6 corporation, working collaboratively with patient advocacy groups to fight managed care abuses, and lobbying to protect our role in the healthcare system while also respecting the aspirations of other professions. The long-range goal will be to prepare the field for a future in which the typical practice will involve both independent and integrated components. I believe there will always be a place for the traditional model of individual psychotherapy, but practice must evolve in the face of system change.

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