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School of Education Leaders Visit Capitol Hill for Graduate Psychology Education Program

Leaders in the Duquesne University School of Education traveled to Capitol Hill earlier this month, to advocate for a program that provides funding for graduate-level psychology students to work in community health care centers offering better access to health care for those in need.

As part of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Education Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13, Dr. Tammy Hughes, professor and chair of the Department of Counseling, Psychology and Special Education, and Dr. Jeff Miller, professor of education and associate dean, joined more than 100 APA members in asking Congressional leaders to continue funding the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program.

The GPE program is the only federal program solely dedicated to the education and training of psychologists. Competitive grants are awarded to APA-accredited doctoral, postdoctoral and internship programs to work with other health professionals in providing mental and behavioral health services to underserved populations.

“We know that when we add a behavioral health component to treatment of diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, success rates are higher and costs are about half as much,” said Hughes, who serves on the APA’s Board of Educational Affairs.

GPE program grants, which began in Pennsylvania in 2002, have never been awarded to facilities in the western part of the state, but Hughes and Miller are hoping to change that. They reported that western PA Congressional leaders were receptive to advocacy efforts.

“This legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support since 2002, as it promotes both workforce development and increased access to integrated health care for children, the elderly and veterans,” Hughes said.

For example, a GPE grant would allow Duquesne University students to serve at-risk populations through local community health centers such as the Hill House. It might also allow for increased collaboration between graduate-level school psychology students in the School of Education and clinical psychology students in the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts.

“Duquesne is in close proximity to the Hill District…we have an ideal location to reach out to an underserved population, and that is consistent with our mission,” Hughes said.

According to the APA’s website, the President’s FY 2012 budget that came out in February requested doubling the number of GPE grants from 20 (the current level) to 40, thereby recommending a significant increase in funding.

Since 2002, the GPE program has supported more than 100 grants in 32 states for approximately $27 million. Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Temple University Health Sciences Center and Geisinger Health System are previous GPE grant recipients.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.