The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) provides an intriguing view of the multitude of forces influencing our nation’s health care system, from the broad interprofessional perspective of the behavioral sciences, law, engineering, nursing, medicine, etc. Some of the timeliest topics recently addressed include: Health Disparities, Global Warming, Advances in Technology (including Telehealth), Disinformation regarding COVID-19, and the Ever-Aging population of the nation with its unique health care needs. Moving beyond a traditional individualized clinical care perspective, addressing the Social Determinants of health becomes critical. An example: Supporting Nurse Well-being: Introducing a new resource offering solutions to support nurses in the critical role they play in our nation’s health. “A nation cannot fully thrive until everyone – no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they make – can live their healthiest possible life, and helping people live their healthiest life is and has always been the essential role of nurses. Ultimately, the health and well-being of nurses influences the quality, safety, and cost of the care they provide, as well as organizations and systems of care.
“By harnessing the potential of nurse practitioners and utilizing their skills, knowledge, and dedication, we can make strides in improving patient-focused equitable care affordable. To achieve this goal, we must bolster the systems, structures, and policies that affect the health and well-being of nurses.” Accompanying this presentation is a targeted slide deck and access to the Consensus Study Report: The Future of Nursing 2020-2030; Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity.
Velma McBride Murry, who was recently elected to the NAM, crafted an impressive and visionary Perspective reflecting our changing times. She noted that the Biden Administration’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government had created a timely opportunity to dismantle racism throughout and across a variety of government-funded research infrastructures, including health, biomedical, social and behavioral research, as well as research focused on the social determinants of health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recently declared racism a public health threat – a declaration based on centuries of oppression and decades of research showing links between racism, health, and health disparities. One of her clearest messages – funding should be increased for research employing methods that value the myriad ways of knowing and experiencing the world. “When all ways of knowing affirm the wisdom and lived experiences of Black, Indigenous, Pacific Islander, Latine, and Asian scholars and communities, the generation of research that can more effectively achieve optimal health and well-being in all communities will increase significantly.”
A Proactive Vision From the Past
APA’s annual State Leadership Conferences have always been one of the highlights of my professional years. The 27th was held in 2010 when Katherine Nordal, Executive Director for Professional Practice, addressed The Power of Advocacy. Highlights: “Advocacy is an ongoing process of educating and assisting decision makers, whether they are legislators, other policy makers, or individuals making choices about health care professionals for family members. When we psychologists serve as advocates we represent not only the interests of the profession, but, more importantly, the interests of our patients and other consumers of psychological services. What does remain clear is that the system ultimately will have to be changed. We need an integrated health care delivery system, and psychologists must be part of the health care teams in that system. We cannot afford to watch from a distance as a new health care delivery system is crafted… one that is unlikely to value what psychologists can bring to the table if we sit on the sidelines. When we fail to become involved in advocacy, we give others the power over our future as health care providers. But if we do not change the advocacy behaviors of many psychologists that is exactly what will happen!”
“By now, I hope you appreciate what I refer to as the ‘power of one’ – the fact that individual leaders can exert considerable positive influence on the process of advocacy. Better yet, when we collaborate, we tap into an energy and power that is impossible to generate or replicate when we work alone. Our emphasis on collaboration, partnerships and networks underscores a central tenet of advocacy. Successful advocacy requires strong relationships and engagement with legislators and others we are working to educate and influence. Advocacy is a long-term process that requires sustained effort. We must build and rebuild relationships. The process of advocacy requires considerable time and energy, and progress is often achieved at a snail’s pace. We need to remain mindful that compromise is a fact of political life.”
“We need to help more of our members become comfortable with and accustomed to using the electronic media that increasingly shape our interactions with others. Finally, we need to mentor students, early career psychologists and other psychologists who are interested in becoming active advocates for the profession. As leaders of all ages and career stages, collectively, we have much to contribute to fostering a ‘culture of advocacy’ for psychology. Let’s start by sharing our passion for the profession and those we serve with our colleagues. The future of psychology as a valued discipline and profession depends on each and every one of us each and every day!”
Changing Times & Reflections
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kathy McNamara and I were two of the psychologists across the country who encouraged Henry Saeman to begin an independent newspaper for practitioners. The APA Monitor was wonderful; however, we believed that from a public policy perspective, access to different voices would be beneficial in the long run. At that time Henry was retiring from the Ohio Psychological Association (OPA) as the first full-time, paid Executive Director of any state psychological association in the U.S. By beginning The National Psychologist (TNP), Henry was combining his previous two 18-year careers – as a journalist and his tenure with OPA. TNP was, and still is, a family business. Henry founded TNP in 1991 and his inaugural issue was published in time for the APA convention in San Francisco. When Henry passed away in 2003, his son Marty took over the helm and continues today as managing editor and publisher.
As many of us have noticed, we have not received a printed copy of the TNP newspaper since July. In its Summer 2021 edition, after 30 years of producing print editions, it was announced that the Summer issue would be the last “print” edition. Since August, the new website has been a work in progress and is scheduled to launch on March 1st or earlier. All materials included in each CE Quiz will remain free and accessible to everyone. All other articles will be available to paid subscribers only. Marty explained: “Many readers have been receiving the print editions free for years, some even for decades. We just could not continue with that business model any longer. My family and I urge everyone to visit our website URL at www.nationalpsychologist.com.”
Kathy: “I had the privilege and pleasure of knowing and working with Henry for decades, and developing a friendship that I hold in my heart still. I know of many of his significant accomplishments, but I will start with his venture into the creating of TNP. For those who do not know him, Henry was a Holocaust survivor from Germany. Though he seldom spoke about personal things, he once shared with me his memory of hiding behind his mother as they could hear Hitler’s SS nearby. It was Krystal Nacht. By a very circuitous route with help from others – often strangers – he avoided capture and eventually arrived in the United States. He was very young, separated from his family who did not survive, and he did not speak any English. From that challenging beginning Henry developed what would be a very successful career as a journalist and newspaper reporter, editor, and publisher.”
“His desire to report the ‘rest of the story’ through TNP is only part of who Henry was and what he contributed to Psychology. My initial contact with him came while I was in graduate school and bored with classroom work. I already had developed a strong affinity for advocacy work as I watched my father writing about and speaking out to Congressional leaders about causes in which he believed. I encountered Henry at a Convention of the OPA. He was providing services advocating for Psychology on behalf of OPA in the Ohio State Legislature – a natural attraction immediately. One of my major professors, very involved with OPA and legislative efforts, kindly agreed that I could develop an Independent Study so that I could spend a day a week working with Henry in the legislature.”
“At times this even meant drafting the legislative language that he needed ‘right now’ (as in find a typewriter and do it!) to put on someone’s desk so that Psychology’s interests were covered. His passion for doing what was right for Psychology was palpable – and he wasn’t even a psychologist! Henry eagerly became my mentor and I with equal eagerness became his student. It was the most valuable learning experience of my graduate days.”
“Henry continued with OPA in a lobbying capacity, and after finishing my doctorate I took on various roles within OPA, including at the beginning as the Chairperson for the Legislative Committee. I was able to continue to work with and learn from Henry. While I remained in Ohio, there were always things to do with Henry. The respect he had among legislators allowed leading psychologists access to those legislators. One of the legislative successes I attribute to Henry was the creation of the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology (SOPP). Though much work had been in process for years, primarily by Ron Fox and David Rodgers, the birth of SOPP occurred one evening at the Ohio legislature.”
“A rather contentious Senate Finance Committee meeting was going on late into the night. The Senate Finance Chairman thought very highly of Henry, and happened to take a brief break, walking out of the room and walking into the nearby bathroom. While I could not follow him, I was with Henry, Ron Fox, and Jim Webb and they could and did follow the Chairman. During that brief break the agreement was made. If a budget below six figures could be brought to him the Senator in charge of Finance would put into the budget, as a line item, to fund the SOPP. The four of us went to a small nearby diner and on paper napkins worked out a budget for start-up funds totaling $99,999. Henry delivered it (in a more legible written form!) to the Senator, and at the same time delivered for Psychology, as he would in many ways until his death.”
“As you might imagine having had a decades long friendship, I could talk on and on with tales about Henry. But, I will just say that I think of him often and miss him dearly.”
“For one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot,” (Richard Burton, 1978).
Pat DeLeon, former APA President – Division 29 – February, 2022
Cite This Article
DeLeaon, P. (2022). “Where once it never rained til after sundown.” Psychotherapy Bulletin, 57(1), 28-31.