President’s Message: October 2013

AshtonAs I continue to interact with members as a leader in OPA, I am struck by the rich diversity of psychological work being done in Ohio by psychologists. In my work as a psychologist in a hospital system, issues such as Medicare reimbursement, healthcare reform, integrated health care delivery, electronic medical records and prescription privileges are in the forefront of my mind. My public sector colleagues have a strong investment in Medicaid expansion, outpatient commitment and consumer rights. Private practice colleagues are heavily concerned with insurance issues, reimbursement rates and keeping pace with healthcare reform issues such as HIPAA. My friends in academia and training may focus on the internship crisis and the importance of interesting diverse students to pursue psychology. I hear from many early career psychologists concerns about student loan repayment and the balancing their new career and their personal lives.

OPA as an organization works to balance each of these goals. The upcoming OPA Convention “Psychology’s Role in Integrated Health Care,” is a good example of how OPA provides quality continuing education to a wide variety of psychologists and allows us to come together in a unique way. Our keynote speaker is Dr. Katherine Nordal from the APA Practice Directorate. She will be sharing the talk, “Healthcare Reform 2013: Implications for Professional Practice” which is sure to be rich with information about how upcoming changes in the health care system will affect psychologists. There are programs that range from applying for graduate school to exit strategy planning, and from community mental health to establishing independent practices. I hope to see many of you at Convention and learn more about your concerns and interests!

I am also struck by the diversity of interests that our Advocacy Committee and staff work on behalf of  Ohio psychologists. Some, but not all, of the issues they are working on include: earlier intervention by psychologists with BWC clients, prescriptive authority for psychologists working in Federally Qualified Health Centers, the update of the Ohio Psychology Law, designing a new APPIC internship, Marriage Ballot Initiative, regulation of Applied Behavior Analysts by the Psychology Board, changing Medicaid supervision requirements for graduate student interns, strengthening law relating to psychologists contracts with managed care companies, and including notification of fee schedule and reducing the take back period in Medicaid Expansion. I believe advocacy is one of the core benefits that OPA provides for its members, and I hope each of you as a member will use OPA resources to stay informed and get involved in advocacy. Dr. Brad Potts, our Advocacy Chair notes, “We can all be advocates…a legislator and a constituent sitting down for a cup of coffee strengthens our position, expands their understanding and we both walk away enriched by the experience.” Stay alert for an advocacy survey to help better understand the advocacy needs of the general membership.

In addition, I am impressed with the valuable webinar offerings and updates from Bobbie Celeste, our Director of Professional Affairs, that have focused on timely topics such as HIPAA updates and PQRS. I appreciate her efforts to keep the membership informed with her listserv updates which have up-to-date information on issues important to practicing psychologists.

However, OPA cannot be all things to all psychologists. One of the important recent initiatives was the development of a strategic plan to help position OPA to best serve the needs of its members. The goals of the plan include the following: 1) advocating for public policies that promote psychological services, the field of psychology and a psychologically healthy Ohio; 2) creating and sustaining an environment of diversity and inclusion, while holding cultural competence for Ohio psychologists as a high priority; 3) making psychology more visible to the citizens of Ohio by providing psychological resources, scientific knowledge, public education and referrals; 4) creating and maintaining a number of income streams to make membership more affordable while continuing to provide priority services that members want and need; 5) supporting the personal and professional lives of psychologists throughout their lifespan, from student status through retirement; and, 6) providing a psychologically healthy and safe work environment for OPA employees and volunteers that supports their career and personal growth, and values their contributions, professionalism and ideas. These goals are broken down into specific, measurable action items that are being worked on by OPA committees and reviewed regularly for progress.

Another current initiative is the governance restructuring task force, which was designed to examine whether OPA’s current board and committee structure is best situated to respond to the strategic plan’s goals. The task force has held several open telephone forums to gather feedback from members, and will continue to report back to the board on its progress. There will be an opportunity at Convention to learn more about this process and provide feedback at one of the display booths, and you can read the minutes from the task force meetings at this link.

Whatever your unique role as a psychologist is, I am glad you have chosen OPA membership as a service that helps you as a professional psychologist. OPA recognizes there are many competing organizations offering services to a wide variety of psychologists, and strongly believes that the unique services including advocacy, professional resources, and continuing education provide a an excellent value for your OPA membership. OPA will continue to work to increase the value of your membership.

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