By David Elkin, Ph.D.
Happy 2019 to all of you in SPP. I cannot begin to write without thanking our Past-President, Ann Davis, whose steady wisdom and sunny disposition made for the perfect combination in a leader. Ann unfailingly sought to guide through open discussion and compromise, which I think positions her for national and governmental leadership. Ann, I will be your campaign manager: Davis 2020!
Expanding Our Role
As we move into the new year, I am optimistic about the prospects for our society. We are still growing, most notably among trainees and early-career researchers and providers. If the future belongs to the young, then we are in good shape. The role of pediatric psychology has changed over time, but our focus remains the same: complete integration of behavioral and medical care. As practitioners, we are still involved in finding and implementing the best behavioral interventions for a wide variety of medical cares for children and adolescents. In this, we have grown tremendously, most evident with the increasing number of SIGs within SPP.
And yet, our role has enlarged. For quite some time, we have been working with specific medical diagnoses; now we are also involved in the integration of behavioral care across medical care. As the payment models move from fee-for-service to value-based care, pediatric psychologists are right at home, having long worked side-by-side with our colleagues in medicine and other health care fields. We are no longer seeking merely to be embedded in primary care practitioner (PCP) offices, but are taking part in the larger discussion on the future of healthcare as a whole, especially for those most vulnerable: children, adolescents, and young adults. The “bigger pie” issue facing us has to do with what these new financial models will look like. Pediatric psychologists are now at the table in these discussions. For example, Stephen Gillaspy (at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center) was a member of the panel that consulted with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the new billing codes for psychological and neuropsychological testing.
In light of the opportunities that lie ahead, I would like to put forward several ideas for our society. First, I encourage SPP to think internationally. We have a growing number of colleagues from other countries who engage in excellent clinical, research, and education-related work. By partnering with our international colleagues we gain from their wisdom and hard work, and improve the care for children worldwide. As International Committee chair, Laura Simons has built on the work of her predecessors; now is the time to expand our international presence and participation.
Second, owing to the fact that the majority of our members are trainees or early career, we need to plow the earth ahead of them in an effort to position them for future success. We can do this in many ways, including but not limited to inviting targeted research grant recipients to give talks at our annual conference, and publishing synopses of their work in our newsletter or online. Also, we can provide professional development opportunities within pediatric psychology for these growing pediatric psychologists on how to be successful at every stage in their careers—thank you, David Fedele, for this wonderful suggestion.
Finally, owing in no small part to considerable behind-the-scenes heavy lifting by Anne Kazak, SPP enjoys an enviable reputation within a larger context, such as the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Now is the time to capitalize on these gains and to solidify SPP’s voice on these and other larger stages.
Let us link arms for the good of all kids, everywhere. You are the future of this organization; as we go, so too go the future of children around the world. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your president this year.