Education SPEAKING OF
Summing it up
BY DR. CYNTHIA BELAR • APA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR EDUCATION
My decision to retire in June was difficult because I have not yet lost my
passion for psychology or my commitment to our mission. In fact, I am a
prime example of living by the Ziegarnik Effect — always thinking about
goals not yet achieved. Still, for me personally, it is time to step aside and as I
do, I am reflecting on our accomplishments over the past 14 years — and
I mean “our,” as none would have been possible without an
outstanding staff and the support of our governance groups.
Initiating programs. One of our earliest initiatives was the
establishment of APA’s annual Education Leadership Conference
as a forum for psychology’s multiple education organizations
to discuss issues of mutual concern. It remains the only such
forum in American psychology and since 2001 has become
a major advocacy event for psychology education thanks to
participants’ visits to Capitol Hill on behalf of our initiatives.
I am also gratified by our success in initiating the Graduate
Psychology Education program, which is the sole federal program
dedicated to preparing health service psychologists. Since 2002,
Congress has appropriated $34.4 million, which has funded 72
grants for doctoral and internship programs in 32 states. Other
successful advocacy efforts were the establishment of the Center
for Deployment Psychology, which has trained more than 2,500
health professionals, and APA’s Campus Care and Counseling Act,
which was incorporated into the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial
Act and supports mental health services on campuses. Our
development of the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators
and grassroots network was essential in these efforts.
Promoting quality. The Education Directorate has
consistently worked to improve quality in education. For
example, considerable efforts have gone into the development
of guidelines for the teaching of high school psychology,
undergraduate education, and the psychology major and
continuing education. These policies have guided educators
and program developers — even textbook publishers. We have
advanced a culture of competence in professional education and
training, and supported standard setting, interprofessionalism
and preparation for expanded roles in primary care. We have
worked closely with the multiple training councils to forge
common ground on issues such as the internship imbalance —
a serious problem for the integrity of our discipline.
Ensuring quality. The Education Directorate has also
supported quality assurance through programs that have
grown considerably over the years. For example, the number of
programs accredited by the APA Commission on Accreditation
has grown from 799 in 2000 to 952 in 2014. The increase in
APA-approved sponsors of continuing education has been from
650 to 803 sponsors.
Providing resources. To promote quality in education, we
have also focused on developing resources. We now have 19 unit
lesson plans for high school teachers and provide numerous other resources for educators. To promote research training in precollege and undergraduate education, we created the OnLine Psychology Laboratory, which receives 650,000 page views a year. To
promote the application of psychological science in education, we
created resources for K– 12 teachers and promoted psychology in
teacher education. And we have grown our continuing-education
program from primarily a convention endeavor to a year-round
resource with 279 programs in the APA Online Academy and a
monthly Clinician’s Corner broadcast from APA. Most recently,
we launched the MedEdPORTAL project, which promotes the
scholarship of teaching and learning, as well as the role of psychological science in the preparation of other health professions.
Collaborating with others. We have also worked closely
with other organizations and agencies to advance psychology.
As examples, we serve on the executive committee of the
Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, co-sponsor the
Institute of Medicine Global Forum on Innovations in Health
Professional Education, participate in the Interprofessional
Professionalism Collaborative and engage in initiatives with the
Association of American Colleges and Universities.
It has been a privilege to work with our staff and governance
groups on these and other initiatives too numerous to mention.
Next year is the 25th anniversary of APA’s Education Directorate
— and there is much yet to come. n