Promising Practices: APA Education Leadership Conference 2009

Preparing Tomorrow’s Health Workforce

During the 2009 Education Leadership, working groups focused on promising practices for teaching, research, practice and policy for not only future psychologists, but in the preparation of the broader health workforce as well. There was considerable redundancy in recommendations across group, which has been synthesized below and presented as a “living document” for the field. Basic themes included the need to: 

  • Articulate psychology’s role and potential role in health.

  • Market psychology as educators of the health research, practice and policy workforce on a more global platform.

  • Articulate context of healthcare and health research systems for psychology.

  • Ensure exposure to faculty and student researchers, practitioners and administrators in other disciplines relevant to health.

  • Foster interprofessional education.

Teaching Psychology

  • Develop curricula/courses specifically for students in other health professions (as has been done for medicine).
  • Use more health examples in Intro Psych courses.
  • Offer certificate programs for students in the health professions who take interdisciplinary courses that include psychology (e.g., aging, health policy).
  • Offer certificate programs for students in the health professions who want to “minor” in psychology.
  • Offer health psychology courses, learning communities and linked courses to foster interdisciplinary models.
  • Advise students about applications of psychology for careers in the health professions, not just careers as psychologists.
  • Dialogue with educators of other health professions. Explore what they want their students to know about psychology.
  • Develop assignments to that get students to think about the applications of psychology to health care.
  • Develop assignments that get students to experience knowledge, (e.g., devise a health inventory regarding stress and health, stress that might be related to chosen profession, etc.).
  • Infuse diversity issues into the teaching of all courses.
  • Assign a paper that encourages students to think about the applications of psychology to their chosen career field.
  • Assign personal statements to examine behavior and health.
  • Develop modules for applied health science labs (e.g., 1 credit add-on for allied health courses).
  • Develop and offer modules/courses on “psychology in X” to other majors.
  • Create a database of examples related to health that could be infused into teaching of various topics in the introductory psych course.
  • Disseminate resources through the Psychology Teachers’ Network and the On Line Psychology Laboratory.

Education and Training of Psychologists

  • Develop certificate programs in areas related to health.

  • Use faculty from other disciplines for teaching/supervision.

  • Guest lecture to other disciplines.

  • Role model respect of other disciplines/professions.

  • Combine resources from various programs to do regional education and training on selected topics.

  • Encourage and participate in development of interdisciplinary courses.

  • Create resources to promote an interdisciplinary “language” as well as verbal and written communication skills (e.g., glossaries, mock reports/articles).

  • Have students prepare a lecture on the role of behavior in treatment adherence they would give to a class of physician assistants and another that they give to hospital administrators.

  • Involve students in interdisciplinary societies/conferences.

  • Create debate experiences on topics related to behavior and health.

  • Include focus on health information technology.

  • Create more intensive professional development mechanisms for working researchers and practitioners.

  • Develop follow-up mechanisms for professional development opportunities.

  • Create updates/annual reviews of topics relevant to health (e.g., neuroscience, public health, decision-making).

  • Examine evidence base for education and training methods.


  • Have students design a health care quality improvement project.

  • Promote evaluation research including program evaluation.

  • Ensure exposure/interaction to students in other disciplines relevant to health research.

  • Ensure participation of faculty from other disciplines in research training (e.g., dissertation committees).

  • Ensure participation in interdisciplinary research teams.

  • Start a journal club with other disciplines.

  • Make assignments to study interdisciplinary research teams (e.g., assign papers to examine experiences).


  • Assign students to a clinic/service or specific health professions for a shadowing experience.
  • Teach screening as part of assessment training.
  • Train to provide services through other health professionals.
  • Ensure exposure to other disciplines/professions and interdisciplinary teams.
  • Ensure interaction with students in other health professions.
  • Make assignments to study other health professions (e.g., assign papers to examine issues in interdisciplinary team functioning).
  • Create debates/discussion boards for translational research.
  • Ensure training in leadership and management, program evaluation, outcomes measurement.
  • Ensure training in evidence based practice, not just evidence-based techniques.
  • Provide exposure to integrated care models.
  • Maintain focus on broad and general training in scientific psychology.
  • Provide clinical experiences in primary care teams/settings as well as specialty care.


  • Provide didactics on health care policy.
  • Share policy alerts about current advocacy issues.
  • Assign students to experiences such as time in a claims unit of a local insurance company, the back office of an independent practice.
  • Assign exercises such as preparation of a one page briefing paper, or 3 minute testimony related to psychology and health topics.
  • Require attendance at public advocacy events.
  • Utilize guest speakers from state health and mental health services, insurance industry, health coalitions, consumer groups, etc.
  • Create a debate format for a policy topic regarding behavior and health.