20 Nov 2017

Executive Function Across the Life Span

This presentation discusses the theory, assessment, and research relevance of tools that can be used for a comprehensive assessment of executive function (EF). It also examines assessing EF using measures of observable behaviors, cognitive processing, and academic performance. Research evidence is presented from a number of assessment tools and resources including:

• The Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory (Naglieri & Goldstein, 2013)
• The Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory—Adult (Naglieri & Goldstein, 2017)
• The PASS neurocognitive theory (Cognitive Assessment System, 2nd ed.; Naglieri, Das, & Goldstein, 2014)
• Social-emotional skills (Devereux Student Strength Assessment; LeBuffe, Shapiro, & Naglieri, 2010)
• Academic skills (Feifer Assessment of Reading and Math; Feifer, 2015, 2017)

Intervention methods are discussed throughout the presentation. Viewers will gain a broad view of EF that can be used to guide assessment and instruction to improve academic and life skills.

jack naglieriSpeaker: Jack A. Naglieri, Ph.D., is Research Professor at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, Senior Research Scientist at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. He is a Fellow of APA Divisions 15 and 16 and recipient of several awards for his contribution to the field of psychology. Dr. Naglieri is the author or co-author of more than 300 scholarly papers, books, and tests. His scholarly research includes investigations related to topics such as intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, giftedness, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

This webinar is sponsored by MHS Inc., a leading publisher of psychological assessments for over 30 years.

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20 Nov 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with Professor Kimberly Kinzig

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs. Dr. Kimberly Kinzig, PhD, uses her training as an instructor and researcher at Purdue University. Learn how you can apply your psychology education to a similar career path.

Kimberly KinzigSpeaker: Dr. Kimberly Kinzig, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in behavioral neuroscience. Her research is aimed at understanding the roles of various neuroendocrine signaling pathways in the control of food intake and regulation of body weight, and how these signals and systems go awry in eating disorders and obesity. She has a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati, and did her postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Psychiatry and behavioral Sciences.

Garth Fowler, PhDHost: Garth A. Fowler, PhD, is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

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16 Nov 2017

Melissa Tehee Helps American Indian Students Become Psychologists

Melissa Tehee Helps American Indian Students Become Psychologists
Melissa Tehee
Melissa Tehee is one of fewer than 300 American Indian psychologists in the United States.

Melissa Tehee, PhD, JD, is a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Her cultural heritage as an American Indian is at the center of her life and career. Tehee is one of fewer than 300 American Indian psychologists in the United States, a lawyer, the director of the American Indian Support Project (AISP), and an assistant professor of psychology at Utah State University (USU) in Logan.

This is a fairly new position for her, one she came to precipitously in 2015, but she's pleased to support Indian students who are defying the odds to become psychologists. She knows the distances they've traveled, psychically and often physically as well, to come to school.

There is some financial support through AISP, but Tehee says, "One of the biggest things we do is provide community," making sure someone is available who understands Indian students' viewpoint and is willing to advocate for them. "That's something I struggle with myself in academia, the individualistic approach to things. My life way is more communal," she says.

Of the more than five million U.S residents who claim American Indian heritage, fewer than 25 percent now live on tribal lands. The majority live mostly in cities. In either setting, though, a large minority of Indians are poor, and they are more likely than the general population to suffer from distress and substance abuse. Only about two thirds of American Indian students graduate from high school, and they are more likely to be expelled, suspended or classified as having "special needs" than are other children. According to the latest available data, Indians graduate from college and obtain professional degrees at about half the rate of other Americans, while those aged 25 to 34 are victims of violent crimes at a rate more than 2½ times greater than that of the population as a whole.

The AISP, which seeks to increase the number of American Indian psychologists, was founded at USU in 1986 in response to the dearth of school psychologists and other mental health professionals on tribal lands. It's the rare psychologist who understands the differences between Indian culture and the mainstream American one, Tehee says. In her job with the AISP, Tehee, by training a clinical psychologist, is on a mission to bring more Indians into psychology.

She has her work cut out for her. USU's latest doctoral cohort in psychology is 11 students, a "huge" class, but even with the AISP on-site, focusing its efforts on recruiting Indians for the field, only two of this group are American Indians. "There's not a lot of awareness" in the community about what working as a psychologist would mean, "but the problem begins long before that," with a student population that has a troubled relationship with school, Tehee says.

AISP is trying to smooth the road for those students who have made it to USU. Doctoral candidates now can get clinical hours by traveling the 80 miles to the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake City, Utah, to do therapy intake, with Tehee supervising. "This is a big step for the AISP program," she says.

Tehee grew up in Nebraska, where her paternal grandfather had settled after serving in the Air Force. He was originally from Tahlequah, Okla., where his Cherokee ancestors were relocated after the infamous 1838 forced evacuation from the Southeast known as the Trail of Tears.  Though he was her only Indian grandparent, Tehee's family identified strongly with his background. "It was who we were, what I heard about," she says. "I always had a different worldview, a slightly different take on things. That difference was pretty obvious for me."

Her parents divorced, and after that, life was often chaotic. The family moved frequently and was even homeless at times. Once, they landed in a domestic violence shelter. School was a refuge, Tehee says, and she excelled there. The first person in her family to go to college, Tehee eavesdropped in high school on other students talking about applying for college, and found out how to apply as well.

As an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, she sought out Cynthia Willis Esqueda, PhD, also a Cherokee, and was "incredibly fortunate" to work with her on research on domestic violence "and the cultural differences in the way people perceive" those relationships. For a master's degree in psychology from Western Washington University in Bellingham, she investigated mainstream biases toward American Indians with Joseph Trimble PhD. Throughout, she volunteered with domestic abuse hotlines and shelters. The study of traumatic experiences — the coping styles people have or develop, the social support they find, their own resilience and what types of interventions have been shown to help — endures in her present work.

Tehee says she always knew she would be a psychologist, and she was attracted to research from the beginning, but she didn't expect to wind up in academia. "I planned to contract out research projects with tribes," she says. After becoming involved with the Society of Indian Psychologists immediately after completing her undergraduate work in 2005, and attending several of the society's annual meetings at USU, she found herself drawn to the school and the rugged area around Logan, which she came to love.

In 2015, Tehee completed a dual JD/PhD program, with a certificate in Indigenous People’s Law and Policy, at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She did her clinical internship in San Diego, where she worked with couples dealing with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on their relationships. Then Carolyn Barcus, EdD, the longtime director of the AISP, decided to retire, and Tehee says, "I got a phone call," one that changed her life. Barcus and USU asked her to take over her job at the AISP, and "that's how it all came about."

She had to scramble then to come up with a career plan. Tehee had worked as a graduate teaching assistant, so she was prepared to teach. However, the Logan area was not home to any Indian tribes. At that point, she says, "I knew my research would have to be on a national scale."

The road to success so far in that regard, Tehee says, has risen out of a network she has found of researchers, not all psychologists, who are working with American Indians.

There's a lot of work to be done, Tehee says. Some tribes have "zero data," but others have been collecting information about their members, and need help putting it to use in a meaningful way — perhaps to get funding for things they're already doing that are working.

Tehee loves the idea that her research projects can give something back to the tribes. "That value, of giving back, is immersed in our culture," she says. "The goal is for all my research to be tribal participatory."

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08 Nov 2017

Managing Student Loan Debt

This informative webinar covers strategies for loan repayment, financial fitness, and tools to manage your debt. The following topics are discussed:

• Loan repayment and forgiveness programs for all types of psychologists
• Time and money-saving tips for program eligibility
• Strategies for financial fitness and additional support
• Special demonstration of student loan management tool, IonTuition

This webinar is brought to by APA, the Georgia Psychological Association and IonTuition, a web-based service that helps you manage student loan repayment. IonTuition is a available at no charge to all APA members as part of your membership.

Eddy AmeenHost: Dr. Eddy Ameen serves as the inaugural director of the Office on Early Career Psychologists at APA. He has been with APA since 2011, previously the assistant director of APAGS. He graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Boston College with a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling, and University of Miami with a PhD in Counseling Psychology. Outside of his work at APA, he is the board chair of StandUp For Kids, a national homeless youth organization which provides street outreach and other youth services in 17 cities across the US. He also leads a local LGBTQ youth advocacy coalition which has successfully advocated to ban conversion therapy, improve K-12 health education standards, require suicide prevention training of school personnel, and require LGBT cultural competency training of all healthcare providers, all within the District. Additionally, he teaches a family systems course to doctoral students, and he conducts asylum evaluations with Physicians for Human Rights.

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08 Nov 2017

How Student Loan Interest Actually Works

How Student Loan Interest Actually Works

We've all heard the numbers on student loans, right? Today, the average student loan balance for Americans is over $30,000, and the national student loan debt balance is a staggering $1.4 trillion that keeps growing every day.

But surprisingly, the most important number that many people with student loans aren't even aware of is their student loan interest rate. Typically, borrowers tend to focus on their student loan total rather than the interest rate that's attached to it.

As a personal finance blogger, one of the most common questions that I ask when talking to readers about their student loans is: "What's your current student loan interest rate?"

More than half of the time, readers don’t actually know their rate without having to pull out their loan paperwork!

Understanding what type and amount of interest your student loans carry, and more importantly how it impacts your overall student loan repayment cost, is essential if you're looking to get out of debt quickly.

Here are the most important questions you need to ask about your student loan interest:

How is student loan interest calculated?

Federal student loan interest isn't calculated the same way that interest is calculated on a car loan or a credit card. Those types of debt are typically calculated with compound interest, while student loans use simplified daily interest.

Here's how it works:

Simplified Daily Interest Formula

Simplified daily interest is the type of interest associated with Federal student loans and most private student loans. It's a fairly easy two-part formula.

Daily interest amount = (Current Principal Balance x Interest Rate) ÷ 365.25

Monthly interest amount = (Daily Interest Amount x number of days in the month)

Here's an example of how simplified daily interest works on a $40,000 student loan balance with 6.8% interest:

Daily interest amount = ($40,000 x .068%) ÷ 365.25 = $7.4469

Monthly interest amount = ($7.4469 x 30) = $223.40

So in the example above, a borrower with $40,000 of student loan debt at 6.8% interest will end up paying $223.40 in interest per month (which will vary slightly based on how many days are in the current month).

Is my loan interest rate fixed or variable?

Depending on the type of student loans you have, your interest rate might be either a fixed rate or a variable rate.

Fixed:

If you have Federal student loans in the form of Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, or Parent Plus loans, you have a fixed rate that is set by Congress.

If you attended undergraduate or graduate school before July 1st, 2017, go to the Department of Education website here to see interest rate changes over the last decade.

Here are the new Federal interest rates as of July 1st, 2017 for anyone planning to attend graduate school or attain a professional degree:

Direct Unsubsidized Loans: 6%

Parent Plus Loans: 7%

For the life of your loan, these interest rates will not change regardless of interest rate increases or decreases by the Fed.

Variable:

If you hold private student loans or are planning on refinancing in the near future, there is a chance that you will receive a variable interest rate depending on the type of loan you choose.

These are a popular product from banks and student loan lenders because they often have very attractive initial rates compared with fixed interest rates.

However, it's important to understand that variable rates will ebb and flow based on a metric called the "1 month LIBOR average." While variable rates have been low lately due to the current low-interest environment controlled by the Fed, they went up to as high as 10.6% in 1989.

Just because rates have stayed low in recent years, you can never use past indicators to predict future rates. If interest rates were to rise sharply, your monthly loan payment would increase with it. It's important to think long term with your loans and consider if you could actually afford a drastic increase in your monthly payment.

What happens when you pay extra toward your student loans?

When you make your student loan payment every month, the money is applied to your loan in the following order:

  1. Any outstanding fees
  2. Interest
  3. Principal loan amount

This does, unfortunately, mean that any extra payments you make toward your loans won't completely be applied to the principal balance. But don't let that discourage you from paying more than you need to every month!

Even a small amount like $100 or $200 will make a massive dent in your loans, and ultimately save you thousands of dollars over the course of the entire loan (depending on your loan terms).

There are two different strategies that you can use to pay your loans off faster:

The Snowball Method

This method is extremely popular because it yields "quick wins" that tend to motivate people who are hoping to get out of debt sooner.

With the snowball method, you would categorize your loans by the lowest principal amount (regardless of the interest rate), and then attack the smallest loan first.

Once the smallest loan is gone, you take the money that you no longer have to pay toward it and add it to your extra payment amount. Then, you tackle the smallest remaining loan again and repeat the process until all your loans are paid in full.

The Avalanche Method

While this method isn't nearly as popular as the snowball method, it's actually more effective from a time standpoint.

With the avalanche method, you will categorize your loans by the interest rate from largest to smallest. Then, you apply your extra payment toward the loan with the highest interest rate, pay it off, and move down the list to the next loan.

This method doesn't "feel" as fast, but it actually accelerates your loan payoff and reduces the amount that you pay toward interest. This is my preferred debt payoff strategy because it saves you more money in the end.

After talking to thousands of student loan borrowers, I've found that the ones who were the most informed about their loan interest rates and how they work tend to be more aggressive with their debt-payoff goals.

In addition, understanding your loans fully will help to make them seem less overwhelming and ultimately make the process of paying them off less stressful for you.

-- Bobby Hoyt is a former high school teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in a year and a half. He now runs the personal finance site MillennialMoneyMan.com full-time, and has been seen on CNBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Reuters, Marketwatch, and many other major publications.

The opinions and advice expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those held by the American Psychology Association (APA).

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07 Nov 2017

Special Report: 10 Trends to Watch in Psychology

Special Report: 10 Trends to Watch in Psychology
Monitor on Psychology, November 2017
Monitor on Psychology, November 2017

More than ever before, there is a growing appreciation for psychologists’ expertise, including the research they do to illuminate human behavior and the treatment and insights they provide to improve health and well-being.

But of course the field’s capabilities go far beyond research and practice—psychology’s ever-multiplying subfields touch on every facet of life. Today’s psychologists are the innovators improving American products and services, from self-driving cars to the health-monitoring apps on our cellphones. They are the trailblazers steering efforts that improve health outcomes and enrich the performance of teams in workplaces nationwide. They are the thought leaders advocating for critical causes, from women’s rights to science-based public policy.

In this special APA Monitor report, “10 Trends to Watch in Psychology,” we explore how several far-reaching developments in psychology are transforming the field and society at large.

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18 Oct 2017

Julianne Holt-Lunstad Probes Loneliness, Social Connections

Julianne Holt-Lunstad Probes Loneliness, Social Connections
APA member Julianne Holt-Lunstad studies social connectivity and the the growing epidemic of loneliness. (Photo: Mark A. Philbrick)

Not many people willingly cop to being lonely. It carries with it a social stigma of pathos that, at the very least, may hurt your self-esteem.

But what if it can damage much more than that? What if it carries the same health risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day? What if social isolation is twice as harmful as obesity and as lethal as alcoholism?

Today, researchers from across the sciences are asking, “Can loneliness kill you?”

Recent public debate over this issue has centered largely on the isolating influence of social media on creating what has been referred to as a “loneliness epidemic” in the culture. However, APA member and social-connectedness expert Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, warns that the problem goes much deeper and that substantial evidence of it predates the technology boom.

“There have indeed been dramatic shifts in how people are connecting and interacting socially now,” Holt-Lunstad says, adding: “But the majority of the epidemiological data we have that established this as a risk factor for premature mortality was conducted before widespread use of most of these technologies.”

If anyone understands the gravity of the public health threat it poses—and the difficulty of getting it on the public health agenda—it is she.

Holt-Lunstad, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University, was the first U.S. researcher to publish a large-scale analysis of studies establishing poor social support as a major contributor to morbidity.

“I remember thinking early in my career, ‘Why doesn’t everyone else recognize this?’” says Holt-Lunstad, who read early studies about social connection while a graduate student. “Is it perhaps because the evidence isn’t as strong as I think it is? Or because it is being measured in a variety of different ways … that don’t give it that level of precision the medical community demands? That’s when I decided to do that first meta-analysis.”

Her trailblazing 2010 study, Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review (PLOS Medicine), blew the doors open on links between social connectivity and mortality and generated buzz in the media as well as in the medical establishment.

Significantly, it showed that people with strong social bonds are 50 percent less likely to die over a given period of time than those who have fewer social connections.

The meta-analysis combined data from148 studies that tracked the social habits of more than 300,000 people worldwide. The research team developed extensive coding for variables that could be weighted to get the overall magnitude effect of social connection on health—no matter the sample sizes of the studies.

These findings were confirmed with a follow-up meta-analysis published in 2015, which expanded the sample to more than 3.4 million individuals worldwide and teased out more nuances.

“We wanted to know: Does it vary by country (It does not!)? Does it vary by cause of death (Doesn’t matter!)? Is it stronger for men vs. women (Equally strong!)?” says Holt-Lunstad emphatically. “This was a snapshot of real life, right? With implications for real-life health outcomes.”

Developing interventions to tackle this public health threat has a host of challenges—not the least of which is fine-tuning our understanding of the quantity and quality of social relationships and their impact on long-term health and morbidity.

For starters, what are the differences between isolation and loneliness?

“The way they are conceptualized and measured is quite different,” says Holt-Lunstad. Isolation is defined more by the actual size of one’s network or the frequency of contact, she says, whereas loneliness “is thought to be more of a subjective experience or perception of isolation, a discrepancy between one’s desired and actual level of connection.”

Further, she observes: “Someone can be lonely but not isolated, or isolated but not lonely.”

These distinctions are important when designing measures and interventions for each. One of the ways Holt-Lunstad has attacked these issues is to gather data on biological pathways connected to the experience of social connectivity.

“Participants come to my lab and I hook them up to equipment to look at their cardiovascular functioning. I’ve also taken saliva and blood samples to look at the neuroendocrine piece. I measured the physiology among those who had more or less supportive people in their network. In some studies, I asked them to bring in a friend and measured their physiology while interacting with them.”

The results from this multidisciplinary research have yielded some fascinating information:

Holt-Lunstad’s life and work intersected perilously in 2011 when her husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. The working mother of two suddenly found herself dependent on friends to help her keep the family running while supporting her hospitalized husband.

Fiercely independent by nature, she says it was “an eye-opener to me of just how hard it is to accept support.”

“One of these social barriers is that we value our independence so highly,” she reflects. “Needing others is viewed as a weakness rather than a conceptualization of interdependence—that we can rely on others and they can rely on us.”

Fortunately, her husband made a recovery, and Holt-Lunstad used her experiences to galvanize her mission to get the issue of social connectivity even more forcefully onto the public health agenda.

She recently testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where she outlined the greater social changes that underpin today’s loneliness epidemic. This summer, she and her cohorts published something of a manifesto in the American Psychologist http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-amp0000103.pdf, where they offered supporting data and detailed recommendations for advancing social connection as a U.S. public health priority.

“It’s incredibly gratifying that it’s getting the attention that it deserves but of course there’s still a long way to go,” she says. “If you look at CDC’s Social Detriments of Health it’s very peripheral, which is surprising since we know there is substantial evidence of lifestyle factors influencing health.

“It may sound a bit audacious,” she continues, “but I’ve been thinking about how we might have consensus guidelines around social connection, as we do around physical activity and sleep. If we expect the public to take this seriously for their health it seems we need something like that so they know what to do and how well they’re doing.

“Of course, these would need to be evidence-based and subject to periodic review as the science progresses, just as nutritional guidelines are,” she continues, “But by having these guidelines it could have a cascading effect on public health.”

Social-connectivity assessment and intervention could become part of medical education and the conversations doctors have with their patients at well-checks, she says. It could become part of K–12 health education, helping children to be more inclusive, build community and improve their mental health.

“When we look at the increase in anxiety and depression in kids and teens, social-connectedness interventions could potentially help reduce those,” says Holt-Lunstad. “I don’t want to claim this will solve all the world’s problems, but it could potentially help and it may be one of the root causes of some of our pressing public health issues.”

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18 Oct 2017

Navigating from Graduate School to Early Career Booklet

Navigating from Graduate School to Early Career Booklet

Traversing the landscape from graduate student to early career psychologist can be challenging. This two-volume series offers useful tools and advice for those on the journey. The first volume includes articles on how to succeed in the early years of graduate school, including how to find a mentor, how to pay for graduate education, and how to improve your writing and presentation skills. The second volume focuses on the later years of graduate school, with advice on how to ask for more responsibility, how to earn research funding and how to make the transition into the workforce.

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16 Oct 2017

Access to Care for All Veterans

Access to Care for All Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs and APA are working to improve treatment for veterans in new ways

Hiring 1,000 more mental health professionals and increasing the number of private-sector mental health providers who are culturally competent in military issues are among the new priorities at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), according to VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD, who testified in March to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Shulkin also emphasized the need to strengthen suicide-prevention programs and announced his intention to open up access to treatment to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.

APA is helping to ensure that the secretary's goals become a reality by pushing Congress to expand resources for VA mental health care and research. "We are thrilled that Dr. Shulkin was named VA secretary," says Heather O'Beirne Kelly, PhD, who in March was named APA's first-ever director of veterans and military health policy. "And we applaud all his newly announced priorities."

Saving lives

The number of veterans committing suicide has dropped to roughly 20 a day, the secretary told Congress. But when it comes to suicide prevention, he said, "What we are doing now—and we are doing a lot—is not enough." The VA is seeking new approaches, he said. "We are reaching out to the very best and brightest from the academic world and the community to come in and tell us what else we can do."

As part of Shulkin's suicide-prevention effort, he plans to make emergency mental health care accessible to the 500,000-plus veterans who have other-than-honorable discharges, which render them ineligible for VA care. "Our goal is simple: to save lives," said Shulkin, explaining that the suicide rate among veterans who don't use VA facilities is increasing at a greater rate than that of veterans receiving care within the VA.

Shulkin's proposal would give veterans with other-than-honorable discharges access to VA emergency departments, vet centers and the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255. The secretary plans to meet with members of Congress, Department of Defense officials and representatives of veterans service organizations before finalizing his proposal this summer.

Veteran Thomas Burke, who received an other-than-honorable discharge after being booted from the Marines for smoking hashish to manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Afghanistan, supports the proposal. "When people think of ‘less-than-honorable' discharge, they think of dishonorable; to get a dishonorable discharge, you have to rape or murder someone," says Burke, now treasurer of High Ground Veterans Advocacy and a master's degree candidate at Yale Divinity School. But, he says, other-than-honorable discharges are often the result of behavior related to PTSD, traumatic brain injury, military sexual assault and other mental health problems. Of course, says Burke, the secretary's proposal is just a proposal. That's why he and other veterans in High Ground support the Honor Our Commitment Act, which seeks to transform the proposal into legislation requiring the VA to provide mental and behavioral health services to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.

APA outreach

APA supports the secretary's proposals, says Kelly. APA generally supports the proposed legislation, too, although Kelly wants to keep a close eye on implementation details. There have been calls to retroactively assess veterans' discharge statuses, for example, and it would be critical to understand how and by whom those assessments would be performed and interpreted and how they would be used by the VA for health-care decision-making, Kelly says.

Of course, the secretary will also need resources to fulfill his vision for the VA. APA called for that increased funding along with other requests in testimony to the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies in March:

  • Suicide prevention. APA supports Shulkin's commitment to enhanced suicide prevention efforts. In terms of other clinical priorities, Kelly urged Congress to support the hiring of more psychologists, increase support for integrated care and hold community providers to the VA's high standards.
  • Prescriptive authority. Kelly also urged Congress to grant prescriptive authority to appropriately trained psychologists in the VA.
  • Research funding. As part of the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research, APA asked for $713 million in fiscal year 2018 for VA research. "A strong VA psychological research program provides the scientific foundation for high-quality care within the VA system," Kelly told Congress.

One concern is the VA's push toward privatization, with more care being provided outside of VA facilities, adds Kelly. While many veterans groups were happy to hear the secretary talk of eliminating the rule requiring veterans who live close to VA facilities to get their care there, she says, APA is concerned that community providers may lack the preparation and capacity to handle the increased demand. Plus, says Kelly, having psychologists embedded into primary-care settings is vital to ensuring high-quality care for veterans.

"We will continue to work with Secretary Shulkin and the VA about what they mean by community care to ensure that the VA is strengthened as an integrated-care provider for veterans and not just as a funder of outside care," Kelly says.

To read Dr. Heather Kelly's full testimony to the House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, go to www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/military/testimony_va_research.pdf.

By Rebecca A. Clay


This article was originally published in the June 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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11 Oct 2017

How Much Do Today’s Psychologists Earn?

How Much Do Today’s Psychologists Earn?

The latest salary report from APA finds that psychologists in the middle of the country outearn their peers

In May, APA's Center for Workforce Studies (CWS) released its most comprehensive salary report to date. The report finds that the median annual salary for U.S. psychologists in 2015 was $85,000, but that salaries varied widely by subfield and geographic region.

Most psychologists (57.4 percent) earned between $60,000 and $120,000, 20 percent earned less than $60,000, and 22.7 percent earned more than $120,000. Those in industrial/organizational psychology were at the top of that range—the median annual salary for I/O psychologists was $125,000. Those with a degree in educational psychology, at the other end of the spectrum, earned a median salary of $75,000.

Want to earn more? Move to the Middle Atlantic region, where psychologists earned, on average, $108,000 per year. Psychologists in the East South Central region, in contrast, earned $59,000 per year.Psychologist salaries

Meanwhile, women continued to earn less than men ($80,000 compared with $91,000), white psychologists earned more ($88,000) than racial/ethnic minority psychologists ($71,000), and those with a PhD earned more ($85,000) than those with a PsyD ($75,000). (To read more about the gender pay gap, see the article "Women Outnumber Men in Psychology, But Not in the Field's Top Echelons" in the July/August Monitor.)

The new salary report is APA's most representative look yet at psychologists' earning power, according to Luona Lin, a CWS research associate. In previous reports, the association's salary data came from member surveys, but APA members skew older and less racially and ethnically diverse than the profession as a whole.

The new report instead analyzes data from the 2015 National Survey of College Graduates, a nationally representative survey conducted every two years by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. The CWS report pulls the survey's data on full-time working psychologists—those with a doctorate or professional degree in psychology who work at least 35 hours per week.

The NSF survey was revised with a new sample design in 2010, adding a fresh level of detail for CWS to examine.

"Because this is a new data set to look at salaries in psychology, we have a lot of variables that weren't available before," Lin says. For example, for professional service positions, she and her colleagues were able to analyze salaries by employment sector (public, private, nonprofit) and employer size. For psychologists in management, they could break out salaries by a person's number of direct reports. And for researchers, they could examine salaries by type of institution and research activity.

There were a few surprises in the data. For example, salaries were highest in the Middle ­Atlantic region, which includes cities with a high cost of living, such as New York and Philadelphia. But salaries were also relatively high in the Midwest—$92,000 in the West North Central area (which stretches from Kansas to Minnesota), and $91,000 in the West South Central area (which includes Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana).

"That was kind of surprising at first glance," Lin says.

But, she adds, the explanation might lie in a 2014 CWS report on job ads, which found a high concentration of open positions in the center of the country.

"We haven't done a causal analysis for this, but we think it might be highly relevant—the salaries [in the Midwest] could be driven higher by demand."

Lin says that interest in the report has been high, and that CWS staff plan to produce new salary reports biannually when NSF releases new survey data.

To read the full report and access the underlying data, go to www.apa.org/workforce/publications/2015-salaries/index.aspx.

By Lea Winerman


This article was originally published in the September 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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