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Number and Distribution of Professionals

A 1995 survey of state psychology boards found 89,514 licensed psychologists in the U.S. (Robiner & Crew, 2000). An increase in excess of 40 percent from 1988, this number yields an average ratio of 33.6 licensed psychologists per 100,000 population nationwide. At the state level, uneven distribution of these professionals becomes evident. In Louisiana, for example, there were only 10.32 psychologists per 100,000 population in 1995, while the comparable ratio for Vermont was 85.15. In part, these variations may reflect cultural differences that influence overall demand for mental health services. They may also reflect differences in scope of practice laws, reimbursement policies, or availability of training programs.

Data on distribution of psychologists and other non-physician mental health professionals within states is difficult to obtain. Studies now two decades old suggest that psychologists are no more likely than other mental health professionals to practice in geographically isolated or sparsely populated rural areas. A county-level analysis for the Northeastern United States using 1978 data, for example, found a significant and positive correlation between population density and the rate of psychologists per 100,000 persons (Keller, Zimbelman, Murray, & Feil, 1980). A national study using slightly more recent data found that psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers all tended to practice in relatively affluent, urbanized counties whose residents enjoyed high educational status, an adequate supply of primary care physicians and relatively liberal mental health insurance benefits (Knesper et al., 1984). Professional Associations

The APA is the principal national association for this profession. A 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, the APA has as its mission the advancement of psychology as a science, a profession and a means of promoting human welfare (American Psychological Association, Inc., 2001c). Out of offices in Washington, DC, the APA provides a variety of services to the profession and broader publics, including publication of the American Psychologist journal and the highly-regarded Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. As noted above, the APA is also responsible for accreditation of programs in professional psychology. Its annual operating budget of more than $75 million is derived from member dues, investments, publication sales and real estate. Special Efforts to Serve Rural Populations

Experts have long argued that quality of life differences, isolation from professional colleagues, and the need to balance multiple roles make the practice of psychology in rural

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