Psychologists’ Leadership Roles and Leadership Training Needs in Academic Health Centers

Laura A. Shaffer*, William Robiner, Liz Cash, Barry Hong, Jason J. Washburn, Wendy Ward

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Psychologists are increasingly called upon to become more involved in academic health centers (AHCs) as leaders across a range of leadership roles in areas such as the clinical, teaching, and research missions, and in the administration thereof. Similarly, expansion of psychologists’ service in national associations, boards, and other forums is increasing. This paper attempts to delineate the nature and extent of psychologists’ involvement in leadership roles and their needs for professional leadership development to assist them in securing and succeeding in these positions. Members of the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers (APAHC) were invited to complete a survey to identify current leadership roles and training needed to enhance leadership capabilities. Most (75%) of the respondents (total n = 105; 42% of APAHC full members; 70% female) were currently serving in leadership roles (range 1 to ≥ 10 positions). Years since degree conferred was positively associated with the number of leadership positions. Diversity of roles was delineated across AHC missions including psychology training (49.5%), clinical service (33.3%), and research (26.7%). An important subgroup (11.5%) served in upper-level administrative leadership positions. Leadership roles external to AHCs were common, particularly service ion committees (30.5%) and boards (27.6%) in state and national professional organizations. Half (51.4%) of survey respondents endorsed at least one leadership development need, with approximately 10% endorsing leadership development needs in all areas. The most common leadership development need was financial management skills, endorsed by nearly two-thirds of the sample. Early career respondents recognized more needs than advanced career respondents. AHC psychologists are expanding their leadership roles and distinguishing themselves as important contributors in AHCs. Despite this, many identified needs for further leadership training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-261
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Leadership
  • Leadership development
  • Professional development
  • Psychologist roles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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