Morgan T. Sammons, PhD, ABPP I spent the latter part of last week at the Texas Psychological Association (TPA) annual convention in Austin, TX, speaking with current and prospective Registrants at our exhibit booth. Obviously the aftermath of the election was the topic du jour. I was struck by two recurring themes in conversations with psychologists and doctoral students. First was the uncertainty about how the results might impact racial equality and social justice issues. Secondly, the specific concerns about what a drastic change or dismantling of the Affordable Care Act might mean for psychologists and the healthcare system, and more importantly, consumers. None of us have sufficient data to opine on either topic at this point, but the conversations and some of the contrasts between what I heard from students and ECPs and more seasoned professionals brings me to the point of my column – the importance of mentorship and involvement in uncertain times. Our profession generally does a good job with mentorship. Our training model dictates that doctoral faculty and supervisors are essentially mentors for life, which was evident by the number of renewed relationships on display at the TPA meeting. We have excellent peer-to-peer support, and our professional associations create strong interpersonal networks. But there are many ways in which professional mentorship and graduate education can be modified to better support the future of the profession. I get too many questions from new psychologists and doctoral students about essential healthcare concepts such as billing, coding and basic constructs like a National Provider Identification (NPI) number. This is essential information that new psychologists need on day one when they walk into an institutional or integrated healthcare setting. Predoctoral interns, particularly in those states that allow intern reimbursement (e.g., Ohio, Oregon, Hawai’i and others) will require this information the first day of training – yet it is inconsistently communicated. Employers of psychologists complain that far too few students are exposed to evidence based interventions in their graduate programs. Such information should not be relegated to post-doctoral “on the job” training. At the post-doctoral level, there remains a lack of nuts-and-bolts knowledge about managing a career and practice. More seasoned psychologists do a great job of passing this practice lore down, but we need more systematic mechanisms for acquiring knowledge about the nuances of reimbursement rules under CMS and private insurors, parity legislation and the like. On the individual practitioner level, questions abound regarding CE requirements, applying for licensure in different jurisdictions, malpractice and practice liability insurance, and marketing a digital-age practice. Two asides here: First, I was delighted to see Registrant Tim Peterson addressing the last item in his excellent ‘Website Deficit Disorder’ presentation at TPA. Second, the...
Health care is getting more complex. Psychologists feel these complexities daily, and they affect us all—one more reason to work closely with our primary care physician colleagues to ensure that mental healthcare is accessible to all who need it. I recently attended the annual meeting of the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association (CFHA), an organization that is now well into its third decade. Originally started by a group of physicians and mental health providers interested in promoting the integration of mental health into primary care, it has evolved into an association of more than 800 members. While it is nice to see psychology and other behavioral health care specialists becoming so involved in primary care, it was a bit worrisome to see that attendance among physicians has dropped off at some of these integrated care meetings. This was the subject of some informal discussion over the course of the weekend: Have physicians lost interest in integrated care?
I’m glad to see so many Registrants and Trainee Registrants have already checked out the National Register’s new Integrated Healthcare Training Series and have earned free continuing education from these video modules. Last week, we released the first three modules of this video series, which includes luminaries like Parinda Khatri, Neftali Serrano, Natalie Levkovich, Jeff Goodie, Kent Corso, Armando Hernández, Marlin Hoover, Jeff Reiter, and Bob McGrath. Take a moment and see what the buzz is all about. Below you’ll find two great segments from the series: The Behavioral Health Consultation with Parinda Khatri, PhD, and The Triple Aim with Kent Corso, PsyD.
Colleagues, I’m delighted to announce that we just launched our new continuing education website: CE.NationalRegister.org. You can earn more than 100 free CE credits on this site from archived issues of The Register Report. The site also introduces a tremendous new innovation: You now have the capability to electronically bank all of your CE certificates, regardless of where you earned them.
The summer of 2016 may very well go down as the “Summer of Outrage.” National elections are never the calmest of events, but this particular cycle seems to be marked by heated passion (to say nothing of unbridled invective) in degrees not seen for quite some time. And it’s not a uniquely American phenomenon. Outraged Britons have chosen to depart the European Union, a passionate decision that they apparently may be coming to regret. But closer to home (and to the theme of this column), it seems that psychologists are increasingly joining the ranks of the outraged. Listservs seem replete with outraged comments about this thing or that, this insurer or that new therapy, this new drug or that new medical device. Read more.
According to a recent report in the journal Health Affairs, Americans spend $201 billion dollars annually on mental healthcare, far more than we pay for any other medical condition. It is quite appalling that we spend this much with so little to show for it. Recently, I attended the Senate Summit on Mental Health hosted by Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. The purpose of the event was to advocate for a comprehensive mental health reform act that promises to expand training of healthcare providers and increase funding and access to mental health services. But we must ask: Is psychology ready to meet these challenges?
From the desk of the Executive Officer, Morgan T. Sammons, PhD, ABPP: I felt that we could not wait to share what we are thinking and reading about the intersections between gun violence and mental health. As more information emerges about the victims who died at the Orlando gay nightclub and their families, I hope you’ll join me in the dialog about what we, as psychologists and as members of our society, can do to end the mass shootings that occur with such sad regularity in our country that they’ve become average.
Dr. Morgan T. Sammons, the National Register’s Executive Officer, attended a presentation on decarceration, given by Dr. Ron Manderscheid, the Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Development Disability Directors (NACBHDD). Learn more about efforts that are being made and that need to be extended to decrease the rate of incarceration among those who have a mental illness or substance use disorder.
With the passage of prescriptive authority legislation for psychologists in the state of Iowa, four states join the Department of Defense, Indian Health Service, and territory of Guam in extending prescriptive authority to appropriately trained psychologists.
Many Registrants are aware of a recent case in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court entitled Serafine v. Branaman. Dr. Serafine ran for the office of Texas State Senator in 2010, describing herself in campaign materials as a psychologist, despite not being licensed as one. When challenged by the Texas State Board of Psychological Examiners, Dr. Serafine desisted from labelling herself as a psychologist, but when the election was over, she sued the Texas Board, claiming that her first amendment rights had been infringed. At hand, there are two issues with this case that pose threats to the profession of psychology. Read more.
Healthcare systems are not going to hire psychologists because of our belief, however well-founded, that our skills make us effective administrators, supervisors, or mediators. If we don’t have the skillset to be hired for one reason only—to provide effective interventions in the integrated environment—we aren’t going to be hired at all. And this means we must expand on our training to be more inclusive of the core skills other providers bring to the primary care environment.
When psychologists are not present in primary care, the de facto treatment in this country for most mental conditions is pharmacological, in spite of accumulating evidence that this strategy is suboptimal. Integrating psychological services into a healthcare delivery system where medications predominate can, I believe, lead to the implementation of more effective clinical interventions. As the U.S. healthcare system lumbers towards change, in part induced by the Affordable Care Act and in part by advances in our understanding of effective practice, it is essential to examine the evidence underlying our assumptions about effective mental health service provision.