In Brief

The Practice Directorate's new administrative director, Randy Phelps, PhD, knows from personal experience what practitioners are facing in the health-care market.

He left a private practice in Houston five years ago to join the Practice Directorate as assistant director for professional issues and was promoted to administrative director last year.

Before joining APA, Phelps spent 13 years in private practice, specializing in family and couples work. He also was chief of psychological services in a private psychiatric hospital, on the faculty at the University of Texas Medical School and chief of a treatment and research clinic for families in Texas's mental health system.

His experience practicing in a variety of settings makes him uniquely qualified to help facilitate the Practice Directorate's work with its diverse constituency, says Russ Newman, PhD, JD, APA's executive director for practice. Phelps understands thoroughly and can relate to the issues and challenges that practitioners face in today's complex health delivery system, according to Newman.

As the Practice Directorate's administrative director, Phelps's position is similar to a chief of staff in a congressional office where administrative, political and policy issues must be addressed simultaneously. He manages the directorate's day-to-day activities, including staffing and budgeting, and represents the directorate at internal APA committee meetings and must act as a directorate spokesperson when Newman is out of town.

In his new role, Phelps influences the directorate's multifaceted agenda that benefits all practitioners, whether they're in private practice, a university clinic, public service or on staff at a hospital or medical school, for example. In fact, he said one of his biggest challenges is not becoming so immersed in his administrative responsibilities that he's disconnected from the directorate's practice-related agenda.

"It's striking how much is happening on behalf of practitioners," says Phelps, adding that members might not fully realize the breadth and complexity of Practice Directorate activities. The directorate is comprised of nine interrelated departments and program areas: the executive office, government relations, state advocacy, legal/regulatory affairs, professional development and training, public relations/communications, policy and advocacy in the schools, professional issues and marketing. The APA College of Professional Psychology also is housed administratively within the directorate.

"Members get a lot of bang for their buck," says Phelps.

The directorate employs 50—including psychologists, attorneys, government relations specialists, public relations professionals and marketing specialists.

"From Russ Newman throughout the directorate, this is the best, most first-rate and highly professional staff I've ever had the pleasure of working with," says Phelps.

—L. RABASCA