Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 237–239 | Cite as

Introduction to the Special Issue: Invited Papers from the 2017 APAHC Conference

  • John A. Yozwiak
  • Amy M. Williams
  • Elizabeth D. Cash


The 8th biennial national conference of the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers (APAHC) was held in Detroit, MI, March 9–11, 2017. All speakers were invited to contribute manuscripts based on their conference presentations to this special issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, and five presenters did so. All manuscripts were peer reviewed by experts in the field. The Conference Co-Chairs, Drs. Amy M. Williams and John A. Yozwiak, serve as Guest Editors for the special issue with Associate Editorial support from Dr. Elizabeth D. Cash. This article provides a brief overview of the rationale for the choice of the conference theme and the speakers, and a brief introduction to the articles in this special issue.


2017 APAHC Conference Healthcare Roles of psychologists 

The 8th biennial national conference of the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers (APAHC) was held on March 9–11, 2017 in Detroit, MI. The theme of the conference was Promoting Psychology in the Evolving Healthcare Landscape: Enhancing the Well-being of Patients, Providers, and Populations. The conference theme recognizes that the healthcare landscape is changing, and there is a need to continue to define and redefine the roles of psychologists in that system, as well as the value of discovering additional roles. The conference sought to address a range of clinical, research, training, and administrative topics pertinent to psychologists working in academic health centers (AHCs). The choice of the conference theme was also informed by the importance of the Institute for Health Improvement’s Triple Aim of healthcare (improved patient experience, improved population health, and cost-effectiveness of care) (Berwick, Nolan, & Whittington, 2008), and the fourth aim that was recently added (improving the life of healthcare providers) (Bodenheimer & Sinsky, 2014).

The theme of the conference and the speakers were also chosen to reflect the mission of APAHC, which is to serve as “the voice of psychology in medical schools and other professional schools in AHCs and teaching hospitals.” APAHC is committed to meeting the needs of psychologists working as clinicians, educators, researchers, and leaders in medical teaching settings, and to promoting the interests of AHC psychologists in relevant organizations like the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) with our physician and allied health colleagues. Members of APAHC work in diverse clinical departments, are engaged in a range of clinical, research, educational, and administrative functions, and span the career spectrum, from trainees through early, mid, and late career psychologists. The programming of the conference was intended to be narrow enough to be consistent with the conference theme, but broad enough to be applicable to the full career lifespan of a psychologist working in a medical setting.

The speakers for the conference were chosen to reflect the theme of defining psychology’s role in the rapidly changing healthcare landscape. Given the diversity in APAHC’s membership and those psychologists working in medical settings, the choice of speakers and topics were broad. The theme of the conference was reflected by the topics covered by the three keynote speakers. Dr. Katherine C. Nordal, Executive Director of the American Psychological Association (APA) Practice Directorate, discussed advocacy and accessibility of psychology to the general population via healthcare systems. Dr. W. Douglas Tynan, Director of Integrated Health Care at APA and Acting Director of APA Center for Psychology and Health, addressed integrated mental and behavioral health services in primary care and other healthcare settings. Dr. Jessica Henderson Daniel, President of APA, discussed the inclusion of cultural diversity in healthcare instruction and training.

In addition to the keynote presentations, positioning psychologists to be involved in the future of healthcare was an important feature of many of the presentations throughout the conference. Integrated behavioral health training across one’s career, leadership perspectives on integrating psychologists in medical departments, and interprofessional education were topics that reflected this theme. Topics that pertained to clinical issues were diverse, but also emphasized providing psychologists with the skills and competence to work in integrated care and the evolving healthcare system. Theses presentations included interventions for centralized pain disorders, holistic cognitive-behavioral therapy, implementing behavioral intervention technologies in AHCs, and interventions to reduce health disparities in adolescents. Additional topics that related to the administrative and educational role of psychologists in AHCs were also covered, including the role of psychologists in quality improvement in healthcare, a prematriculation program for medical students, and the importance of provider well-being. Pertinent to the work of many of the conference attendees, a presentation on ethics and confidentiality in medical settings was included.

The choice to include articles based on presentations at the APAHC Conference in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings (JCPMS) is clear, as this journal is the flagship journal of APAHC. As such, the objectives and content of this journal reflect the mission of APAHC, particularly, advancing interdisciplinary research and practice in the interface between psychology and medicine. In the service of this objective, JCMPS publishes original manuscripts related to the work of those psychologists practicing primarily in AHCs with the diverse medical populations that are represented at these AHCs. The topics in the journal include, but are not limited to, theoretical and practical issues related to the practice of psychology in medical settings (i.e., AHC leadership, administration, and governance; professional training; and clinical practice). With such a focus, the APAHC Conference presenters were invited to include a manuscript representing their presentation from the 2017 APAHC Conference for publication in this special issue.

For this special issue, five articles are included. Each article is based on a presentation at the conference. Drs. Ashton and Sullivan discuss ethical issues that often confront psychologists who work in AHCs. They offer suggestions for best practices when faced with these ethical dilemmas. Drs. Ward, Zagoloff, Rieck, and Robiner based their article on their panel presentation on interprofessional education. The authors describe important skills for psychologists to productively collaborate with other healthcare professionals. The importance of incorporating interprofessional education activities into the training of psychologists in light of the healthcare system moving to value-based reimbursement and collaborative practice is highlighted. The roles related to interprofessional education that psychologists can play are covered. Drs. Abouljoud, Ryan, Eshelman, Bryce, and Jesse discuss the factors that support integrating psychologists into specialty care clinics, including financial and payor frameworks, as well as the unique skills that psychologists possess. Strategies for integrating psychologists into these clinics are proposed. Dr. Bonin highlights the role of psychologists in quality improvement at academic health centers. Ways to increase professional competencies and collaborate with medical colleagues in quality improvement, as well as the important positioning of psychologists in these projects, are discussed. Drs. Penwell-Waines, Ward, Kirkpatrick, Smith, and Abouljoud review the literature on healthcare professional well-being. The authors also propose changes that must occur for the greatest impact on well-being, and highlight research opportunities to move well-being in healthcare professionals forward.

As the healthcare landscape continues to change, the roles and competencies of psychologists integrated within healthcare must also evolve. APAHC’s mission allows it to grow and evolve within this system as well. The aim of the 2017 APAHC Conference was to highlight the changes in healthcare, as well as demonstrate the various roles, competencies, and contributions of psychologists in AHCs across the country. It is anticipated that future APAHC conferences will also be structured and developed based on the roles, responsibilities, and needs of psychologists in AHCs.



The Co-Chairs of the 2017 Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers (APAHC) Conference, would like to acknowledge and thank all of the presenters at the conference, as well as the authors of the articles for this special issue. We were fortunate to have a stellar group of psychologists and physicians with extensive experiences in academic health centers who eagerly agreed to share their expertise. The Co-Chairs would also like to acknowledge the many sponsors of the conference: Society of Clinical Psychology (American Psychological Association [APA] Division 12), Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (APA Division 40), Health Psychology (APA Division 38), The Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (APA Division 53), American Academy of Clinical Psychology, National Register of Health Psychologists, and the American Board of Professional Psychology. We also would like to thank the members of the APAHC Board of Directors for their support and encouragement. Finally, and most importantly, the 2017 Conference would not have been a success were it not for the Conference Planning Committee. The core conference was built by Elizabeth D. Cash, Ph.D. (Sponsorship), Laura Daniels, Ph.D. (Registration), Kristine Diaz, Ph.D. and Teresa Pan, M.A. (Media and Advertising), Lauren Penwell-Waines, Ph.D. (Scientific Poster Session), and Donna LaPaglia, Ph.D. and Stephanie Powers, Ph.D. (CV Consults). The Early Career Bootcamp was made possible by the dedication of Kelly Foran-Tuller, Ph.D., Leila Islam, Ph.D., and Laura Daniels, Ph.D. A new addition to the 2017 Conference, the Mid-Career Bootcamp, was brought to being by Eugene D’Angelo, Ph.D., Mariella Self, Ph.D., and Laura Shaffer, Ph.D. We are indebted to this group, for it is their unselfish volunteering of their time, hard work, and dedication that led to the success of the 2017 Conference.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. John A. Yozwiak, Dr. Amy M. Williams, and Dr. Elizabeth D. Cash declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the authors.


  1. Berwick, D. M., Nolan, T. W., & Whittington, J. (2008). The triple aim: Care, health, and cost. Health Affairs, 27, 759–769. Scholar
  2. Bodenheimer, T., & Sinsky, C. (2014). From triple to quadruple aim: Care of the patient requires care of the provider. Annals of Family Medicine, 12, 573–576. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. Yozwiak
    • 1
  • Amy M. Williams
    • 2
  • Elizabeth D. Cash
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck SurgeryHenry Ford Health SystemDetroitUSA
  3. 3.Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Communicative Disorders and James Graham Brown Cancer CenterUniversity of Louisville School of MedicineLouisvilleUSA

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