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Book Forum: Health Services   |    
Mental Health Care Administration: A Guide for Practitioners
Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:1346-1346. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.8.1346
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Anchorage, Alaska

Edited by Paul Rodenhauser, M.D. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2000, 264 pp., $49.50.

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Dr. Rodenhauser has developed this work as the outgrowth of a training course for mental health professionals that he developed and conducted for many years at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He describes the work as a primer that will be germane to individuals who are in either clinical or administrative positions or a combination of both. He emphasizes that it is not a textbook. The guide encompasses a wide range of topics, from the economic context of national health care through financial performance and the need for outcomes measurement and management.

As one who has developed a similar lecture series for general physicians, I was most impressed with the depth and scope of the topics and how they are presented. The guide presents each of its topics in some depth; therefore, it could be overwhelming to the new clinician-administrator who tries to read all of it at once and digest all of the wonderful material that is included in this volume.

Clinician-leaders who take the time to absorb each of the chapters will come to have a very basic grounding in the major areas that affect administration and leadership in mental health at this time. Although the chapters are written by different contributors, there are two excellent features that tie the work together. The first is the presentation of major concepts in bold print throughout the work. This mechanism helps readers tie down the many new and perhaps unfamiliar concepts as they work at integrating this knowledge into their previous clinical constructs. The second feature is the presentation of a glossary of terms at the end of every chapter. The topics that are presented here are new to the clinician and vary from politics to administration, law, and finance. Each of these has its own language, and it is wonderful to have the major concepts defined and clarified for both present and future reference.

There are several suggestions that might be useful in further enhancing the great usability of this work. The first entails some mechanism to tie the various chapters and areas together. I imagine that when this material was presented as a course the syllabus or the course coordinator provided a framework relative to how these topics relate to one another. This coordination is somewhat lacking in the written form, and the topics might seem somewhat discontinuous, if one did not know the scope of administration or leadership. The second involves the area of finance and accounting. This area is somewhat "foreign" to many clinicians, and perhaps it might have been better to divide this chapter in two and slightly amplify on many of the very important concepts that are presented.

Despite these small suggestions, this guide is indeed a useful primer both for clinicians who come to have some leadership role and for leaders who wish to have a better understanding of the forces and concepts propounded by the government, the payers, and their administrative counterparts.




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