Making MPA More Valuable – Planning for the Future

On September 27, the MPA Governing Council (GC) and Committee Chairs met for a strategic planning retreat, with the specific goal of developing objectives and action plans for 2015.  This work builds on the past two years, which have taken our strategic plan model that was developed in September 2012, and moved MPA forward to a more financially stable and smoothly functioning organization.  As MPA leaders met this year, the focus was on continuing the progress of the past two years while also finding new ways to make MPA even more valuable to all of us.

Our Home

Developing from the notion that MPA is the professional home for all psychologists and psychology students in Minnesota, the strategic model for MPA is that of a house.  The foundation of the house is why MPA exists, and at the 2012 planning retreat we determined that MPA exists to provide “Connection, Protection and Growth” for our members.  The foundation is held together by MPA’s mission statement, “To serve the science of psychology and its applications throughout Minnesota so the interests of public welfare and psychologists are mutually enhanced.”

The MPA home is supported by four pillars: 1) Organizational Structure and Operations; 2) Fiscal Solvency; 3) Leadership and Governance; and 4) Member Engagement.  As we develop objectives and action plans to strengthen each of these pillars, we build a home that can support a vision (a.k.a., a “roof”) of MPA as “a thriving community of psychologists that genuinely serves the public and the field of psychology.”  In this vision we work to see an association of collaborating individuals and groups that embrace diversity, pursue innovation, and bring real democracy to life.  We also want to hear genuine optimism about psychology as a profession and a science from MPA members, and we strive to ensure that members are valued, appreciated and fulfilled by their association with MPA and with their colleagues.

The Planning Process

The September 27 planning retreat followed a process of reviewing MPA’s current functioning, identifying both strengths and areas for improvement.  From the list of areas for improvement, the retreat participants divided into six work groups to develop proposed objectives for 2015.  Potential objectives were presented to all retreat participants for review, and then voting determined the objectives that were seen as most important.  These objectives have subsequently been assigned to various committees for further review and proposal of action plans for 2015, plans that will accomplish these objectives.  The MPA Governing Council will review the proposed action plans at its meeting on December 6, and adopt the organization’s plan for 2015.

Providing Protection and Adding Value

Two main themes emerged as retreat participants considered MPA’s needs and developed proposed objectives:  Providing protection to MPA members and adding value to membership.   The Membership Committee will take the lead on identifying ways in which MPA can be more effective at protecting psychologists in an era of large-scale changes, and potential threats, to both the profession and science.  Other committees and leaders will support this effort by establishing stronger liaison and working relationships with the Board of Psychology, graduate programs, post-doctoral programs, health care systems and organizations.

New and enhanced efforts will be made to educate both the public and other health care professions, especially medicine, about the value psychologists bring to individuals and to the health of the entire population.  New full-day conferences will be considered, one aimed at helping early career psychologists with the tasks inherent in establishing a career and/or a practice, and another aimed at helping mid-career psychologists keep abreast of new regulations, new opportunities, and ways to expand or re-shape their practices.

To effectively communicate the kinds of protection offered by MPA, and to effectively advance that protection, MPA will work to develop a structure and plan for more effectively communicating with members.   Simultaneously, MPA will evaluate the feasibility of using restored financial stability to re-create a position, probably part-time, for a Director of Professional Affairs (DPA) who will work with multiple committees (legislative, payer relations, public education, education and training, and membership, to name a few) to communicate and advocate with all types of audiences, both internal and external to MPA.

A careful reader will likely recognize that the above listing includes few details, and is, nonetheless, a substantial set of undertakings.  But wait (borrowing from the world of infomercials), there’s more:  Participation in Mental Health Day at the Capitol; transitioning to a new platform for our website; developing sponsors and donors for MPA.  This list could go on even further.  Because MPA is a living and dynamic organization, new priorities and new objectives may emerge at any time, so action plans that are currently under development will be changing as needed.

What Does This All Mean?

MPA is working hard to bring real value to all members and to offer protection, as well as connection and growth, to all.  The 2015 strategic plan will strengthen this work, and will be a living document that reflects the life and dynamism of MPA.  The energy that drives this life and dynamic activity comes from the engagement and passion of MPA members.  Please contribute to this dynamic life; by the actions of members, and only by our actions, MPA is empowered to constantly pursue our mission “to advance the mutual welfare of the psychologists and the public.”  Thank you.

Steven M. Vincent, Ph.D., L.P., recently retired as Director of Behavioral Health Services, CentraCare Health System.  Dr. Vincent is the current President of MPA, having served two terms on the Governing Council from 2003 to 2009, and as Legislative Committee Chair from 2004-2012.  Steve was also on the Governing Council of the American Hospital Association Section on Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services from 2010 through 2012.  He was the founding chair of the Minnesota Hospital Association’s Mental Health Task Force.  He can be reached at [email protected]

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