President’s Message: March 2014

AshtonOPA: What’s Your Return on Investment?

By: Kathleen Ashton, PhD, OPA President

You may have noticed a number of surveys coming across your email from OPA recently. OPA has been gathering information on a wide range of topics from members including salaries, governance restructuring, early career needs, volunteer participation and advocacy issues. Why so many surveys?

Among OPA leaders and staff, there is a commitment to getting accurate feedback from members about their needs and to providing services to members that are valued. Membership engagement can be measured a number of ways: traffic on the website and listserv, renewal rates, convention attendance, advocacy involvement and committee participation. Based on many of these measures, OPA has a very engaged membership. For example, 2013 Convention attendance was high, and in an environment where it is hard to retain members, our membership numbers have remained steady or increased. However, on other measures, there are signs that members may not be getting their needs served or voices heard. For example, only 11 percent of membership voted in last year’s OPA presidential election. Many OPA committees report difficulty recruiting new members, especially early career and diverse psychologists.

Members see strengths of OPA as providing CE through Convention, workshops and webinars. I would look to this service to continue to be a strong part of OPA’s brand. I think an opportunity for growth includes OPA being the premier provider of psychological information and professional tools for Ohio psychologists. This is a critical time in our growth as a profession with the changing health care landscape, and Ohio psychologists need reliable and dependable information, how to’s, and representation.

In the future, I hope OPA will be able to receive real-time input into policy making by using technology to gather feedback from members. This might include surveys, town hall meetings (virtual or in-person), or use of technology to increase member communication to and from OPA. I believe this would improve services to OPA members, but also would help members to become more involved and engaged in their OPA membership.

What can you do to become a more engaged OPA member?

  1. Attend Convention. The upcoming Convention should provide up to date information on changing health care structures critical to Ohio psychologists. It’s also a great place to network with other psychologists and leaders in the field.
  2. Check out OPA webinars and stand-alone workshops. OPA has held workshops in last year on DSM-V, ICD-10, PQRS, and HIPPA and offers many webinars that are convenient ways to finish your CE requirement (August 31, 2014 is not far away!).
  3. Vote in upcoming OPA elections. We have both President-Elect and APA Representative elections in the next few months. Take the time to get to know the candidates and their ideas. Make your opinion heard!
  4. Join an OPA committee. Concerned OPA is not addressing some of your needs as a psychologist? Join a committee and become part of the process. Membership, Diversity, Professional Practice, Advocacy, Early Career, Insurance, Public Sector, are just a few of the committees on which you could make an impact.
  5. Complete surveys and participate in the listserv. Member feedback, such as comments posted on the listserv and from surveys is a good way to get your voice heard. In addition, you might find out that lots of people have similar concerns or have already asked (or answered) your question.
  6. Renew your membership and encourage others to join/renew. Our strength as a group is proportional to the number of psychologists represented.
  7. Check out the OPA website. Did you know you can print your receipts, look up member contact information, and check your MCE status all from the website. There are a number of features and terrific information you can get directly from the website.
  8. Volunteer. Psychologists in Ohio donated over 4,600 hours of service as part of OPA or as a psychologist in 2013. Volunteer opportunities through OPA include pro bono services, disaster relief work, suicide prevention walks, health fairs, public talks and more.
  9. Become part of advocacy. The Advocacy Committee has simple steps to help you become involved in state or federal advocacy to help shape laws and policies that affect psychologists. Legislative Day is a great way to get started if you need mentorship.
  10. Become an activist, not a “passivist.” I hear psychologists bemoan the problems with the profession, hoping that someone else (OPA, APA, etc.) will “fix” these problems. The reality is that the issues facing psychologists will take significant engagement from psychologists to make progress and the biggest investment you can make as a psychologist is take responsibility to help address professional issues through your donation of your time, energy, and resources. We all became psychologists because we love psychology, and psychology has been very good to most of us. I hope we care enough about psychology to each do our small part to help it thrive.

What’s a return on investment in OPA membership? Like most investments, it is dependent on how much you put into it.

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