A few years ago, I attended an unusual hospital grand rounds that focused on new surgical tools that enable physicians to access parts of the body that are beyond the reach of the human hand. The surgeon had worked with professors at MIT to develop instruments, and he was excited about the potential surgical procedures that could emerge from this work—as was I.
But the most magical words of his talk came at the end, when he added: “For the best results, you need a psychologist to prepare patients for surgery and help facilitate coping and adherence to the regimens needed for recovery.” Of course, I thanked him for advocating for the inclusion of psychologists in his patients’ care.
His talk reminded me of what an intellectually exciting discipline psychology is. Our field offers tremendous possibilities for collaboration, both within psychology and with other disciplines, to reach areas and solve problems that we once thought lay beyond our grasp. But to reach our potential, we need a steady infusion of energy and ideas. That requires us to recruit and retain bright and creative psychologists so that we can offer the best ideas, research and service to society.
The good news is that psychology classes already attract many students. People are curious about each other, and our discipline offers scientific theories, data and applications that explain how and why people think and behave as they do. However, public fascination with the field is not enough. We need to attract and retain students who fully reflect the diversity in the world, who are curious about a range of topics and who are able to imagine solutions for problems once deemed unsolvable. To find those students, APA can draw on its more than 50 divisions and subspecialty groups covering every sphere of human behavior. APA’s renewed focus on early career psychologists, bolstered by mentoring programs, can help to retain and advance the next generation of scientific and professional leaders. Our more established colleagues can provide important knowledge about their initial forays into various theoretical models and how their thinking has evolved over time.
APA welcomes all psychologists, from all career stages and psychology subfields. Our scientists, educators and practitioners can develop knowledge through science and then apply it in a range of situations previously deemed unreachable. Our discipline needs the brainpower, creativity and will to confront a range of topics that affect the quality of life, not just in the United States, but in the world.
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