Speaking of Education

APA and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) have launched a partnership that will provide medical students, faculty and other health professionals with access to free online educational resources in psychological science through MedEdPORTAL Publications. The partnership is another key step in our efforts to advance psychology as a science as well as the scholarship of teaching and learning in psychology.

Advancing psychology as a science

Although psychologists have long been involved in the education of other health professions, an increasing amount of health and behavior research clearly points to the need for psychological science as a core component in all health professionals' preparation. I was pleased to participate in the 2002 Institute of Medicine's Health Professions Education Summit, which recommended, among other things, that all health professions be educated about the role of behavior in health and to have the skills needed to communicate well with patients and other providers, to help manage patient lifestyles and to work as part of interprofessional teams. Accreditation criteria across the professions are now being reconsidered with respect to the learning outcomes expected by their education and training programs. One example of the recognition that behavioral components are key to preprofessional preparation is the new version of the Medical College Admission Test for 2015, which will, for the first time, test students' knowledge and use of concepts from the behavioral sciences before entrance to medical school.

Several years ago APA's Education Leadership Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Health Workforce developed a set of promising practices to ensure psychology is part of other professions' training and education. Conference participants also identified the need for repositories of relevant teaching materials. MedEdPORTAL Publications is such a repository, being a free online source of educational materials that has served more than 10,000 national and international health education institutions spanning 198 countries. Users have represented medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and public health with an average of 2,400 downloads recorded each month.

With our new partnership, APA will be responsible for the first collection of resources in psychological science to be published in MedEdPORTAL. As noted by Dr. Carol A. Aschenbrener, AAMC's chief medical education officer, "Understanding people is key to being an effective physician, and psychological science plays an important role, from premedical through graduate studies. This collaboration represents a commitment to sharing effective educational resources related to psychological science across disciplines, and helps create greater understanding that behavioral and mental health care is part of overall health."

Advancing the scholarship of teaching and learning

The MedEdPORTAL partnership also promotes educational scholarship because it facilitates the open exchange of teaching resources that have been rigorously peer reviewed. Accepted publications receive a formal citation, and are considered as scholarly works by tenure and promotion committees in reviews for faculty advancement.

We believe that supporting the scholarship of teaching and learning is necessary if we are to embrace evidence-based education in our teaching practices. Although we have long promoted the application of psychological science in K–12 teacher education, it was not until the 2004 Education Leadership Conference that we began a more organized focus on our own teaching practices. The scientist-educator model described in the subsequent National Conference on Undergraduate Education in Psychology calls for putting psychological research on how people learn into practice by developing and using effective teaching methods in undergraduate psychology — but it is a model relevant to all levels of education in psychology. In fact, evidence-based education was most recently endorsed by APA's Council of Representatives in its adoption of the Resolution on Quality Professional Development and Continuing Education.

We are fortunate that Dr. Barney Beins of Ithaca College has accepted the role of inaugural associate editor for psychology's MedEdPORTAL collection. Calls for submissions will be coming soon, and I hope that APA members will participate in making this a preeminent resource in advancing psychology as a science in the preparation of the health workforce. I am confident it will advance the scholarship of teaching and learning in psychology itself.