Date: 14 Mar 2012

Functional Roles and Foundational Characteristics of Psychologists in Integrated Primary Care

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Psychologists are presented with unprecedented opportunities to integrate their work in primary care settings. Although some roles of psychologists in primary care overlap with those in traditional psychology practice settings, a number are distinct reflecting the uniqueness of the primary care culture. In this paper, we first describe the integrated primary care setting, with a focus on those settings that have components of patient centered medical home. We then describe functional roles and foundational characteristics of psychologists in integrated primary care. The description of functional roles emphasizes the diversity of roles performed. The foundational characteristics identified are those that we consider the ‘primary care ethic,’ or core characteristics of psychologists that serve as the basis for the various functional roles in integrated primary care. The ‘primary care ethic’ includes attitudes, values, knowledge, and abilities that are essential to the psychologist being a valued, effective, and productive primary care team member.

The contents of this paper were based on a presentation titled Essential Competencies for Integrated Primary Care by the first and third author at the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers conference, Boston, MA, March, 2011. The paper was also informed by the proceedings from the Council of Clinical Health Psychology Training Programs Mid-winter meeting, Nashville, TN, January, 2011.