HSC Health psychologist named NAP distinguished fellow
Neuropsychologist Dr. April Wiechmann will be inducted into the National Academies of Practice as a distinguished fellow in psychology. The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth practitioner and professor will be honored during the organization’s annual meeting and forum on the weekend of March 30. The induction ceremony will take place in Washington, DC, at a black-tie gala banquet.
Wiechmann practices at HSC Health’s Center for Older Adults, in addition to teaching and mentoring students at HSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“The application process was pretty extensive,” Wiechmann said. “You have to demonstrate your expertise and implementation of interprofessional practice. In psychology and/or neuropsychology, we typically do not have the opportunity to work interprofessionally. One of the unique things about our clinic is how we truly do interprofessional care within the Center for Older Adults.”
NAP only extends the distinguished practitioner appointment to those who are leaders in their profession and in interprofessional care. All HSC Health clinics are centered around this team-based approach to provide the best possible care for every patient.
“This is the only outpatient practice I know of where interprofessional care is provided with neuropsychology, physician and social work,” Wiechmann said. “I honestly don’t know another neuropsychologist outside of our practice that works in-person interprofessionally in DFW. They may send reports and referrals as feedback to other providers, but we are unique in that we all sit at the table together and discuss with the patient and their family all the different options and resources available.”
NAP nominees must have an exemplary career of 10 years or more and made significant contributions to interprofessional health care to be eligible for consideration. Wiechmann was nominated by executive vice president of Health Systems Jessica Rangel.
“Dr. Wiechmann is a strong advocate for all people,” Rangel said. “She also embodies values that make her approachable, trustworthy and very knowledgeable.”
“From the moment I met her, she has been and still is an advocate dedicated to supporting and integrating interprofessional health care practice for both students and patients,” Rangel said. “She has demonstrated through her practice that close collaboration and coordination of different health care professions — aligned in purpose — is essential to the well-being of all patients.”
Wiechmann’s patient meetings go beyond just presenting a diagnosis and recommending a resource or two. She analyzes key pieces to a patient’s independent living, which she calls the Big 5: cooking, cleaning, driving, medication management and financial management. She also encourages individuals and their family members to evaluate if an activity in one of these categories is becoming unsafe or overly frustrating.
“Patient-centered care is looking at all aspects of living, functioning and being independent, not just a diagnosis,” she said. “A diagnosis of dementia … that’s hard to hear. There are so many questions that come with that diagnosis about a patient’s future, independence, driving, life expectancy and more. It’s important to have a group of experts to treat and manage these diagnoses. When I have to provide feedback without my team, it’s just not the same for the patient and family.”
HSC is well represented among NAP’s distinguished fellows. Dr. David Farmer, executive director of Interprofessional Health and Behavioral Health, is a distinguished scholar fellow within NAP’s Psychology Academy. He also serves as NAP’s vice chair of the Psychology Academy and sits on its leadership council.
“I think that HSC’s emphasis on interprofessional teamwork helped to uniquely position Dr. Wiechmann and myself to be nominated and elected by our peers as fellows in recognition of our accomplishments in the field of psychology and interprofessional education and teamwork,” Farmer said. “I am very proud of Dr. Wiechmann’s accomplishments in bringing psychology to the health care team at HSC Health.”
In addition to sponsoring an annual forum to help educate and inform NAP members and others, the organization also facilitates collaborative scholarship and research opportunities, recruits, engages and mentors their network of members and advocates for the value of interprofessional practice to improve health care and policy for all.
Wiechmann summed up her health care philosophy simply: “At the end of the day, interprofessional practice is all about comprehensive care for the patient.”