State Beat

Advocating for cultural competency training in Ohio; contesting legal name requirement in New Jersey.

By Hannah Calkins


The Ohio Psychological Association (OPA) advocates for cultural competency training requirement to decrease infant mortality rate.

In late September, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 332, which aims to decrease the state’s high infant mortality rate — particularly for babies born to black mothers.  

Given this disparity, Bobbie Celeste, PhD, the director of professional affairs for OPA, reported that OPA supported the idea that requiring health care providers to participate in cultural competency training would decrease the rate. Before the bill was passed, Celeste met with the bill’s lead sponsor and cited the many efforts made by OPA and the Ohio Board of Psychology to encourage such training. 

Celeste reports that OPA is disappointed that the final version of the bill doesn’t include a course requirement, but it does require state health boards to provide licensees with an annual list of trainings and other educational opportunities related to cultural competency in health care. The Ohio House of Representatives will vote on the legislation this month.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Psychological Association (NJPA) is protesting policy barring psychologists from practicing under nonlegal names.

Keira Boertzel-Smith, executive director of NJPA, reports that NJPA members are concerned about the state’s policy requiring all licensed professionals to use their legal names on professional identification materials.

The requirement is a problem for a significant number of practitioners in the state, particularly women who practice under their maiden names. According to Boertzel-Smith, the members learned about the policy by contacting the state’s Board of Psychological Examiners to ask about it, even though some of them have practiced under nonlegal names for years without incident.

NJPA and its legal counsel are drafting a letter to the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs, asking that the policy allow professional identification materials to include an “otherwise known as” line for nonlegal names. They hope to send the letter by the end of this year, Boertzel-Smith says.

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