Louis M. French, Psy.D.
My name is Lou French and I’m honored and pleased to be considered for the NAN Presidency.
I have worked in the Federal Government for most of my career and have spent over 19 years working with military traumatic brain injury. I serve as the Deputy Director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at the Walter Reed National Military Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I am also the site director for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center at Walter Reed, the largest site in that network. My work at Walter Reed includes overseeing all aspects of clinical care and research at the NICoE, including oversight of over 200 staff from 18 health care specialties. I am also actively involved in research and education. I am an Associate Professor of Neurology and Rehabilitation at the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and am a lead investigator and co-Director of the Phenotyping Core with the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, a program that integrates research efforts on TBI and PTSD between the DoD and the National Institutes of Health. I also remain an active clinician. I perform neuropsychological evaluations and supervise medical and psychology residents in the clinic. Overall, my work provides me with a fulfilling blend of administration, clinical work and research.
Working in the Federal healthcare system can be challenging for a variety of reasons. However, succeeding in that system provides invaluable experience in navigating challenging regulatory issues, managing people and working with others. I hope to bring that experience to the NAN Presidency. NAN is a strong and vibrant organization, with great support from the administrative offices and the Executive Director. Nonetheless, the Board of Directors relies on having experienced, thoughtful people to help shape the organization. As the most recent Chair of the Publications Committee, I have observed first-hand the dedication and expertise of the team. We are lucky to have had so many generous, smart people fill those roles in the past. I would do my best as President to advance the organization, support its members and advocate for the profession of neuropsychology. Thank you for considering me as President.
Dr. French is a member of the following organizations:
- National Academy of Neuropsychology, Fellow
- International Neuropsychological Society, Member
Candidate Positions on the Issues:
How does your background qualify you for this office?
I would be privileged to serve NAN as President and feel my background provides a strong foundation for that role. Currently, I oversee a large clinical program and research portfolio at the United States Military’s flagship hospital. Somewhat unusual is the range of specialties within our group. We have physicians from five different medical specialties, multiple rehabilitation providers including speech pathologists, audiologists, physical and occupational therapists, art and recreational therapists, and health and rehabilitation psychologists and neuropsychologists. One of my jobs is making sure that our 18-specialty staff works in an integrated, coordinated way despite any differences in perspective. In the hospital as a whole, I represent our multidisciplinary staff from the only Directorate in the hospital focused solely on one disease state, in its interaction with the Directorates of Surgery, Medicine, Behavioral Health and others. In short, I am reliant every day on strong communication skills, the ability to negotiate effectively, broker compromise when needed, educate peers and coordinate efforts towards a single focus—the care of our patients.
My work involves ongoing meetings and cooperation with Federal agencies, members of Congress and high-level governmental and organizational officials. That experience allows me insight into these systems, which will be beneficial for NAN as it continues its larger strategic goals.
Finally, I am an active clinician, a researcher and administrator. Just as NAN represents and supports its members regardless of their job, focus or experience, I hope to bring that breadth to this job.
What do you see as the major challenges to neuropsychology in the next 5 years? How do you believe NAN, under your leadership, can be effective in meeting these challenges?
Healthcare is under great scrutiny. Regardless of the debates over universal coverage, Federal involvement or other contentious issues, there is agreement that healthcare needs to be efficient and cost-effective while promoting the strongest possible outcomes. Neuropsychology needs to be an active part of this discussion by advocating to the public and decision-makers what we do and how it improves care. We cannot afford to have decisions made for us when they may affect our viability and role in healthcare. Likewise, concerns about cost issues affect us. Science can be poorly understood and become a victim of cost-cutting measures. Accordingly, research funding suffers, which affects our membership and our training mission. NAN has the infrastructure in place to make sure that our voice is strongly heard in these debates. I would continue to support these advocacy efforts.
Education of the public takes on greater importance every day. It is sometimes murky for those seeking services about the differences among those professions that assess and treat the brain, or the mind, or those that do testing. While we should not feel immediately threatened by others encroaching on our “turf,” we should be vigilant about the changing landscape and ensure that we advocate for ourselves and promote excellence in what we do.
Finally, we need to be responsive to a changing society as demographics continue to shift. We need to continue to be prepared to meet these changes. Our Cultural and Diversity Committee should maintain their leading role in informing and guiding NAN.
How would you promote professional practice?
Promoting the professional practice of neuropsychology represents the core of NAN. Every committee, publication, annual meeting and Board Member works towards that goal. NAN needs to continue to promote education at all levels of practice. Students need to understand how to care for their patients and themselves while advancing the field overall. Professional members need to be given the tools to be successful, whether assistance with reimbursement issues, continuing education or collaboration with peers.
I would support content in Archives, the NAN Bulletin and the book series that would further practice focused education. I would ensure that content in CEU offerings and the Annual Meeting addresses the membership’s needs. I would markedly increase efforts to solicit input on what are the most pressing, emerging needs of our members. The Legislative Action and Advocacy and the Professional Affairs and Information Committees need support in their mission to educate the public, ensure adequate reimbursement and promote the profession. Their support would be a major focus of my Presidency. Finally, we need to support practice-focused research. There are significant questions in neuropsychology on how to best educate the public on our services and expertise. Like all of healthcare, the satisfaction of patients and providers is closely linked to how much of a partnership we form with those we serve. I believe that to advance our profession we need to focus on effectiveness, the business aspects of our work, and make sure that all of our “customers” feel engaged in their relationship with us.
How do you plan to bridge science and practice?
In theory, science and practice shouldn’t be different. Early in our training, we constantly think about science. In fact, the vast amount of scientific information we learn can make us slower and less confident at first. That stabilizes later through experience and confidence. As we move more deeply into our areas of practice, the risk is that the seamless merger of science and practice becomes a victim to daily reality. As scientists, we’re measured by publications and amount of grants. As clinicians, we’re measured by how many patients we see, how many RVU’s we generate or how many procedures we do. None of these things in themselves directly improve our decision making or the health outcomes of our patients. When we are caught in one of these two silos the system around us does not encourage us to move smoothly between them. Our physician colleagues face similar issues. However, some areas, like cancer treatment, have shown great progress when the clinical and scientific research worlds merge. Additionally, organizations like the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) are dedicated to making sure that clinical research influences healthcare through producing and promoting evidenced-based information.
In NAN, we need to work in two directions. For our members, we should continue to promote education. The Annual Meeting should directly influence our practice. The NAN publications should continue to make emerging science easily accessible. For the public, we need to engage and support organizations like PCORI. Neuropsychology must have a voice in these efforts.