Feature

Even before she was elected as APA's 2014 president, you probably had heard of Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD. After all, the Atlanta-based clinical and family psychologist has won more than two dozen awards, headed two major credentialing and training organizations, and been a popular professor and internship and postdoctoral fellowship trainer at the Emory University School of Medicine since 1990. Kaslow is also chief psychologist at Emory's vaunted public teaching hospital, Grady Health System, vice chair for faculty development in Emory's department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and has been highly active in APA governance for decades.

But adding to her resume and earning accolades is not what motivates Kaslow. Her passion is fueled by reaching out to others — those in need, as well as colleagues, students and even ballet dancers — and nurturing the synergy that develops.  

"You give a little to the community, and what a difference you can make," Kaslow says.

That philosophy has defined her career, as well as her private life. At Emory and Grady, she has spent 25 years fighting for, studying and providing high-quality mental health care to underserved families, including African-American women who have been abused or are suicidal. She supervises interns, postdocs and grad students in conducting research and evidence-based practices with these and other populations. She regularly assumes leadership positions in APA and other professional organizations that have lofty but attainable goals, such as improving psychologists' education and training and ensuring they play critical roles in the changing health-care system. And as the psychologist for the Atlanta Ballet, she does her part to keep community-based arts thriving by keeping dancers in good mental health.

Given Kaslow's penchant for bringing people together, her presidential theme is uniting psychology for the future (see article, page 38). She has also selected three initiatives that she hopes will attract member involvement and make a difference to the field by placing psychologists front and center in the evolving health-care market, improving the quality of life for students and early career professionals, and bringing psychology's scientific discoveries to the public.

"I really want to reach out to all our members — not just people I know or have heard of — and make these initiatives as inclusive as possible," she says.

Here is more on her three initiatives:

  • Opening Doors Summit: Facilitating Transitions from Doctoral Education to First Job. As a longtime supervisor and trainer, Kaslow has seen firsthand the job-related difficulties faced by postdoctoral students. "The internship imbalance is obviously a serious problem," she says, "but I also have a lot of postdocs who are really anxious about their first jobs. I want to help make that process easier, to ensure that more jobs are available to them."

    To identify ways to help postdocs find jobs, Kaslow is hosting a summit in Washington, D.C., next fall. It will consist of two tracks: one for psychologists who plan to work in health-care settings and the other for psychologists who plan to work in other venues, such as research and industry. Participants from various parts of the pipeline — including doctoral programs, internships and postdoctoral residencies, as well as various employment sites — will be invited to share relevant data, thoughts, recommendations and potential solutions for addressing and removing barriers to moving ahead.

    The goal, says Kaslow, is to create APA-wide resources to address the challenges of finding psychology internships and jobs, and to publish the summit's outcomes in journals and other publications.
  • Patient-centered Medical Homes: How Psychologists Enhance Outcomes and Reduce Costs. It's vital for psychologists to prepare themselves for the changes taking place under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, says Kaslow, who has been practicing essential tenets of the act — interdisciplinary collaboration, using evidence-based practices to better serve patients and families, and involving patients and families in treatment plans, for example — for more than two decades.

    It's the right time to get on board, she says. "While there are a lot of unknowns and a lot of stress and anxiety related to [these changes], there are some really exciting opportunities as well."

    One such opportunity is the "patient-centered medical home" or "patient-centered health-care home," a primary-care model that is patient-centered, comprehensive, team-based, coordinated, accessible, and focused on quality and safety, and the general philosophy on which the Affordable Care Act is based.

    Kaslow wants to be sure that patients, their families and other health-care professionals understand the critical role that psychologists can play to make such patient-centered practice a reality. She is particularly interested in ensuring that people from diverse social classes and ethnic and racial backgrounds have access to psychologically minded patient-centered medical homes. That's why she is creating a task force to evaluate and communicate the research that shows how psychologists can enhance behavioral and physical health outcomes, lower costs and reduce health disparities.

    The task force will use that information to create a toolkit for psychologists interested in working in such settings, says Kaslow. Components will include a website on best practices, and tip sheets to help psychologists build the case to other health care providers and to patients and families about what psychologists bring to the table.
  • Translating Psychological Science for the Public. Kaslow also is keen on ensuring that psychology's best scientific findings become more widely known.

    "Psychology does fantastic science, but we need to get that out more effectively to the public," she says.

    A presidential task force related to this third initiative will tackle the issue, providing consultation to APA staff who will create and disseminate new public education material. Kaslow wants to target a range of media, including blogs and webinars. She wants information presented to all relevant audiences, including the news media, legislators, non-psychology professionals, the lay public and young people.

The success of all three initiatives depends on member collaboration, Kaslow says.

"The more we can learn from each other, the better," she says. "If we're going to do things meaningfully, we have to do them together as a team."

Tori DeAngelis is a writer in Syracuse, N.Y.
Email Dr. Kaslow; find her on Facebook at "Nadine Kaslow 2014 APA President"; and follow her on Twitter at @NKaslow.