Susan McDaniel, PhD, promoted integrated health care long before most people knew what the term eant. In her first job in 1981 at the department of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), she was the first woman
and the first non-physician faculty member. In that role, with
her family physician colleague, Thomas Campbell, MD (now
department chair), McDaniel (now associate chair) developed a
psychosocial medicine curriculum for primary care, including
an emphasis on collaboration with psychologists.
“Though the residents learned to identify patients with
depression and anxiety, they were having a hard time hearing
back from the mental health clinicians in the community to
whom they were sending these patients. We thought, ‘Why don’t
we have mental health services right here?’” she says.
McDaniel brought behavioral health specialists on board
“Susan was able to build bridges and convince the
at URMC, a rare practice in the 1980s, but one that quickly
showed results. “It reduced barriers to access and immediately
improved communication,” she says. “Patients loved being able
to come to their physician’s office for their mental health care.
We were able to provide truly comprehensive care instead of
siphoning off the mental health issues.”
The program grew, leading to greater patient and family
engagement and changing the way physicians at URMC learn
and work, Campbell says. Now, URMC residents generally insist
on having psychologists and other mental health professionals
where they work, believing that it’s helpful to them as well as
administration that this model was important and not only
beneficial to our patients, but also to our residents and our
training program,” he says.
Since the beginning of her career at URMC, McDaniel
has also worked in the department of psychiatry, conducting
research and developing curricula for mental health
professionals to work in primary care. In addition to her
leadership role in family medicine, she is the director of the
Institute for the Family in the department of psychiatry.
Through her role in psychiatry, McDaniel continues to expand
the comprehensive care mandate, training psychology students,
interns, fellows and later career members on behavioral health
care, patient-centered communication and integrated care,
while also treating patients and their families.
She is known for bringing her values to all facets of her work
as an administrator, teacher and mentor. “She attends to the
interpersonal development of people she works with, and is
willing to be a cheerleader and champion,” says her URMC co-worker Lauren DeCaporale-Ryan, PhD.
McDaniel is extending this work as APA president to push
for integrated care nationwide. Her presidency is timely and
likely to have a big impact on the field, colleagues say.
“I can’t imagine a better APA president, especially now with
the rollout of the Affordable Care Act,” says Suzanne Bennett
Johnson, PhD, former APA president and professor at Florida
State University. “She has a vision of psychology as a health-care
profession, not just a mental health profession — and she gets
McDaniel has also been president of Div. 43 (Society
for Family Psychology) and chair of APA’s Publications and
Communications Board. She has also been a member of the
association’s Committee for the Advancement of Professional
Practice, Council of Representatives and Board of Directors.
As APA president, one of McDaniel’s top priorities is
organizing a conference of leaders from diverse health-care
organizations to help them better understand psychology and
how adding psychologists to care teams improves mental health
access and helps control costs. Her goals are to form alliances to
implement comprehensive care and tackle legislative, regulatory,
payment and training hurdles.
“The need is great and the opportunities considerable
for psychologists to contribute to primary health care,” says
McDaniel. “People suffer because of not receiving care that
includes psychology.” The time to act is now, she says, when the
fluid health-care environment offers many opportunities for
change under the Affordable Care Act.
Another of McDaniel’s presidential priorities is promoting
psychology within interprofessional education, working with
pioneers in the field to ease curricula and financial barriers
to make a “paradigm change in the way we think of graduate
“I hope psychologists can learn more about early
intervention, prevention and population health — what it
means to care for a community and how that affects the way you
think about treatment, assessment, and research” McDaniel says.
Also critical, she says, is “learning to be part of a team and
Her presidency will also include addressing the findings
gaining the skills needed for that.”
She plans to gather seasoned and early career psychologists
in integrated specialty care — particularly in the areas of
diabetes, cardiology, surgery, transplants and fertility —
to exchange ideas on the “innovative and exciting things
happening in those areas,” McDaniel says, and to showcase
their work in a journal special issue. She also hopes to produce
a special journal issue on teams and team science.
of the independent review released last summer. (See the
“It is a time of self-evaluation,” she says. Her priorities
include strengthening APA’s conflict of interest policies,
reviewing ethics policies and procedures, and “ensuring our
commitment to human rights and public welfare is clear in all
that we do.”
— Stacy Lu