||Candidate for NAN Treasurer
Benjamin D. Hill, Ph.D.
It is an honor to be nominated for Treasurer of NAN. NAN is my home organization in clinical neuropsychology. I attended my first NAN conference 19 years ago as a student and have been continuously involved with NAN since that time. I started as a graduate student volunteer at conferences before serving on the Poster Committee as a reviewer and student poster judge. I have served on the Clinical Research Grants Committee, Program Committee, and was NAN Member-at-Large from 2019-2021. I was awarded the NAN Early Career Service Award (2016) and NAN Early Career Award (2017). I have benefited tremendously from the opportunities for service and career development that NAN provides. The NAN annual conference is literally the only conference I never miss. I believe the breadth of experiences I have in NAN make me well-qualified to represent the membership as a Board member and, specifically, as Treasurer.
A little bit about my background. I grew up in a family business leading me to approach practice issues from a business mindset. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked with children with autism before earning a masters degree at Wake Forest University. I completed my doctoral training at Louisiana State University under Drew Gouvier, internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center/G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VAMC, and fellowship at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. I am currently a tenured full professor at the University of South Alabama. I train doctoral students in clinical neuropsychology, teach undergraduate and graduate courses, and run an active research lab. The thing I am most proud of is the success of my students. I have published 44 peer reviewed articles and 15 book chapters. I have a dual appointment in the Department of Neurosurgery at our medical school and am a faculty fellow at the Center for Generational Studies that focuses on aging issues. I also maintain a busy private practice as well as provide services at the Gulf Coast VA.
I am well aware of the problems that the field is facing. Practice is rapidly changing. We need to adapt by including fee for service concepts outside of traditional insurance billing and integrating into our practice models the provision of prevention and enhancement services. I am a firm believer that a field is either growing or dying. I am very committed to growing clinical neuropsychology. I hope you will allow me the chance to do that by representing you as Treasurer.
Dr. Hill is a member of the following organizations:
- International Neuropsychological Society (Regular/Full Member)
- National Academy of Neuropsychology (Professional Member)
Candidate Positions on the Issues:
How does your background qualify you for this office?
I have a long history of service to NAN. I know both the history of NAN and the concerns of the membership. Additionally, I have a number of experiences outside of NAN that have prepared me to do well as a Board member. First, I have a history of patient advocacy. I am involved with the Alabama Head Injury Foundation and supervise an affiliated support group for individuals with moderate to severe brain injuries. Second, I have a broad history of service to the field. I served as NAN Member-at-Large from 2019-2021 and this experience prepared me for the duties of Treasurer. I have also served on multiple committees for NAN and am familiar with the budgeting process for the organization. Additionally, I was the science officer for APA Division 40’s Early Career Neuropsychologists Committee and served on the APA Division 40 Awards Committee and as chair of the APA Division 40 early career pilot award committee in 2020-2021. I am on the Editorial Boards of Journal of Attention Disorders and Applied Neuropsychology: Adult. Third, I have a history of professional advocacy. I serve as president of a local professional organization, Mobile Area Psychologists, that represents and connects clinical psychologists in my area. I also served in the past on the executive committee of the Alabama Psychological Association where we regularly acted as a liaison with our state legislature on bills that would affect practice. I believe these experiences have prepared me well to effectively represent the membership of NAN as Treasurer.
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?
Being active in doctoral training, I am well aware of the need to provide resources for the development of future neuropsychologists. In my opinion, NAN already does more to introduce students to the field than any other professional organization but there is room for growth in this area. As an example, the NAN Student and Post-Doctoral Resident Committee hosts small panel discussions for student and early career neuropsychologists and I have been a panelist in the past. NAN also provides hotel accommodations for student conference volunteers which is not standard practice for similar professional organizations. These types of outreach programs let the students and post-docs who attend our conference feel that NAN is invested in them. I also believe that the NeuroNetwork has significant potential to be used as a catalyst to pull students into NAN’s professional orbit. The future of neuropsychology depends on expanding training opportunities to both recruit talented individuals and produce well-trained clinicians who specialize in neuropsychology. Further, the future of NAN depends on drawing these people to our organization. Part of making neuropsychology an attractive profession is ensuring that individuals we ask to invest 7+ years in graduate and post-doctoral training are able to make a living that is commensurate with that time investment. Billing and compensation issues that are problematic now will likely only worsen in the future. Addressing these issues should be at the forefront of our professional advocacy as it not only impacts current providers of neuropsychological services but also impacts the future of the field.
How would you promote professional practice?
As mentioned previously, I am president of Mobile Area Psychologists and served on the executive committee of the Alabama Psychological Association. I worked with a diverse group of psychologists in these roles dealing with state level professional issues. This gave me a unique insight into how our peers approach problems we face in clinical neuropsychology as well as a sharp awareness of the role lobbying plays in the health and growth of practice. It is apparent to me that professional issues really happen at the state level. Scope of practice issues are determined in the end by state legislation. Any battle to protect the special role and skill set of neuropsychologists has to be fought at the state level to be effective. Additionally, insurers are national companies but operate differently state by state ensuring that billing issues are rarely resolved at the national level. Billing and compensation issues are significant threats to clinical neuropsychology currently. The NAN Professional Affairs and Information Committee (PAIC) does a fantastic job at this and has launched the NANectome to target states as specific issues arise that impact the profession of neuropsychology. As Treasure, I would explore having more resources focused on strengthening programs such as NANectome. Based on my experience, it is clear to me that the best of interests of neuropsychologists are not typically represented by state psychological organizations where only a handful of members may be practicing neuropsychologists. We need a coordinated plan of action to promote our professional interests at the state level to see effective change.
How do you plan to bridge science and practice?
What I appreciate most about NAN is that it is a clinician-oriented organization. Its conference presentations and outreach programs reflect that focus on both good science and practical application. The NAN Clinical Research Grants (CRG) Committee is excellent at promoting science with applicability to neuropsychology. I served as both a CRG committee member and was the Board liaison for CRG from 2019-2021. I am proud to have worked with Bob Roth and Bill Perry in 2021 to partner NAN with the Alzheimer’s Association to award 8 grants for $100,000 each focused on neurocognitive effects of COVID-19 in older diverse populations. I was also part of an inter-organizational group that worked to jointly fund research grants with APA Division 40 and AACN to allow for a larger pool of fund. If elected as Treasurer, I would look for ways to expand these types of creative funding opportunities. NAN is essentially a medium sized corporation with $5 million in assets. If we saved just 1% of our investment management expenses, that would provide another $50,000 a year for funds to enhance our scientific outreach. This could be research funds or events like the Summit on Population Health Solutions for Assessing Cognitive Impairment in Geriatric Patients that NAN convened in 2017. These types of activities establish NAN as a leader. I am a divergent thinker and not afraid to try new ideas to bridge science and practice through NAN-initiated programs. If elected Treasurer, I plan to examine ways to save costs to provide more funds for this type of work.