By: Michael Ranney, MPA, OPA Executive Director
We had a fabulous delegation for APA’s 30th Annual State Leadership Conference (SLC) this year. This is always a great program, combining programming relating to federal advocacy, state association management issues, practice trends and networking with leaders from all state, provincial and territorial psychological associations. It is all about advocacy and leadership. There is special emphasis on providing orientation for each state, province and territory’s President-elect about the key APA contacts and other resources available to them to support their association. Dr. Kathy Ashton, our President-elect, was a relaxed participant, having attended in the past in other capacities. It is easy for a first year participant to feel overwhelmed because there is so much to take in and digest.
To build our leadership pipeline we always try to include two diversity delegates to help OPA stay on track to meet our diversity goals. This year our Diversity Committee Chair, Dr. Wanda McEntyre and Christine Agaibi were our two diversity delegates. The ideas, information, experience and contacts they accumulate at SLC are invaluable. Getting a sense of how our efforts to build diversity measure up with what others are doing challenges us to do more.
The Chair and Chair-elect of the Ohio Association of Graduate Students (OPAGS) also attended. It was so gratifying to see a former Chair of OPAGS at SLC as the Federal Advocacy Coordinator from West Virginia. Jessica Luzier was the first and still the only graduate student to receive the Karl Heiser Award for Advocacy for her work on the Sequence of Training Bill several years ago. What a gift we have given the West Virginia Psychological Association. Now she’s knocking on the doors of Congressional offices to lobby for psychology. Watching the dynamic duo we had with us this year, Ashley Murray from Wright State and Terri Pelley from the University of Cincinnati, talk the issues with congressional staffers provided proof that we are on the right track in making student involvement a priority.
Dr. Josh Shuman, our Early Career Psychologist Chair, was there for the second time as an ECP delegate. He graduates out of the ECP category this year, so next time he will have to go as President-elect (no pressure, Josh!). Josh shared with me how proud he is to be part of our group and how much he appreciates the support OPA gives our ECPs. Josh has done a great job as Chair of the ECP Task Force.
Dr. Todd Finnerty was there as our Public Education Coordinator (PEC). The PEC folks have their own training and agenda to learn about the media and educational resources APA has developed. This program has really evolved over the years, including promoting the use of social media to inform about psychology.
The theme this year was “Countdown to Health Care Reform.” Dr. Katherine Nordall, Executive Director for Professional Practice, was the keynote speaker. We will see her here in Ohio as the keynote speaker for our Convention on October 30, 2013. Also speaking at the opening session was Mark McLellan, MPA, MD, PhD, Senior Fellow and Director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform.
Dr. Robin Graff-Reed, chair of our Psychology in the Workplace Committee, joined us on the opening day of the conference to participate in the National Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards Ceremony in which one of our award winners, the Cleveland Clinic Mellen Center for MS, received a Best Practice Award. This ceremony just gets better every year.
Advocacy and politics are a big part of the SLC agenda. We heard from Judy Woodruff of the PBS News Hour about the current political environment in Congress. We were briefed on several issues relating to Medicare and given our talking points for visits with Ohio’s Senators and Congressional Delegation. We practiced and practiced going over the points so we were well prepared when we went to Capitol Hill for our meetings. Dr. Bobbie Celeste had us all scheduled in teams to make the rounds and cover issues relating to Medicare reimbursements, including psychologists in the Medicare physician definition (we are the only doctoral level profession that is not included in the definition), and to get co-sponsors for a bill that would allow psychologists and social workers to qualify for the incentives provided in the HITECH Bill (from which we were excluded because we aren’t in the physician definition).
We had opportunities to hear about telepsychology guidelines, expanding psychology’s participation in Medicaid, electronic health records, online advocacy tools, clinical practice guidelines, how to get media coverage, PQRS, efforts to address the funding issues that have been a factor in the internship imbalance, the new psychotherapy codes, diversity leadership, and integrated care. We are fortunate to have enough Ohio people to cover all sessions so that we bring back all the information that is presented at SLC. This is a tremendous benefit for our association.
I attended a presentation on new practice models. This was a fascinating case study of two different approaches to developing alternative practice models. One of the presenters, Dr. Barry Anton from Tacoma, Washington has expressed an interest in presenting at our Convention and we are pursuing this with him.
A program of great interest to us was presented information for state associations based on the lessons learned from APA’s Good Governance Project (GGP). Ohio’s own Dr. Sandra Shullman, who has been very involved in the GGP, was one of the presenters. We also heard from Dr. Jo LinderCrowe, CEO California Psychological Association, about the work of their Task Force to impact the governance structure. OPA currently has a Governance Structure Task Force, chaired by Dr. Kathy Ashton.
This was my 17th SLC. Once again I can say the 15 hour days x 4 were really worth it for OPA. We all learned a great deal, got a sense of how OPA stacks up with other state associations (very well!), made connections in other states, shared and received information and ideas, and advocated for psychology. Thanks to the APA Practice Organization for organizing this program and making it better every year.