Pediatric Neuropsychology Program

Supervisors: Scott J. Hunter, Ph.D. and Megan Scott, Ph.D.
4 Positions

Goals of the Externship:

The Externship in Pediatric Neuropsychology has been designed to offer an appropriate balance between general training in relevant aspects of pediatric psychology, including the understanding of medical illnesses and developmental disorders, and their impact on psychosocial functioning, and specialized training in the identification and diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders and their assessment within pediatric neuropsychology.

To this end, the Pediatric Neuropsychology Service at the University of Chicago offers comprehensive training in how to conduct brief and comprehensive evaluations of children and adolescents with suspected or known neurocognitive dysfunction. In order to meet training goals, externs become proficient in test administration, scoring, and interpretation, and are trained and certified as Neuropsychology Technicians for the Service, responsible for carrying out a number of important aspects of the evaluation process.

All clinical work conducted within the Service is directly supervised by either Scott J. Hunter, Ph.D., Director of Neuropsychology and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Pediatrics, or Megan Scott, Ph.D., Staff Pediatric Neuropsychologist and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience in the University of Chicago’s Pritzker Medical School.

The Service also maintains two full-time Neuropsychology Technicians, Krissy Washington, M.A. and Suzanne Wiggins, M.A. Ms. Washington and Ms. Wiggins assist in the management of the Service, support and extend training in test administration and scoring, and insure that all data and documentation collected within the Service is correct and appropriately complete.  They also provide direct support for all of the research studies being conducted by the Service

Description of Training Provided:

An extern who is accepted to pursue training with the University of Chicago’s Pediatric Neuropsychology Service can anticipate a very challenging and supportive experience in the development of assessment and diagnostic skills. Each extern commits to spending two full days each week on site with the Service, including one full clinic day where patients are evaluated and one day primarily devoted to didactic seminars and supervision. The extern will become knowledgeable about, and proficient in diagnostic interviewing; the administration, scoring, and interpretation of cognitive, neuropsychological, and behavioral measures; the selection of appropriate measures for diagnosing cognitive, behavioral, and emotional disorders; the ability to convey in both written and verbal formats information relevant to the evaluation and its results; and will learn to develop and then present appropriate, empirically supported recommendations for intervention and learning.

Before ever seeing a patient in their role as a testing technician, the extern must first complete a rigorous two week long training in which they learn standardized neuropsychological and objective test administration, observe each of the key tests being administered, and then demonstrate proficiency and reliability in test administration before being approved for each test they are likely to use during the externship. This training process is overseen by Dr. Hunter, and is implemented by Dr’s. Hunter and Scott, and the Neuropsychology Technicians. The training process is the same that any neuropsychology technician would go through to serve as a technician at the University of Chicago. As a result, upon successful completion of training, the extern will receive a written certificate indicating that they have completed required training as a Neuropsychology Technician at the University of Chicago, and will then be able to work individually, under the supervision of either Dr. Hunter or Dr. Scott, with patients referred to the program.

Referrals to the program are received from inpatient and outpatient services in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Pediatric Neurosurgery, Pediatric Oncology, Pediatric Neurology, Pediatric Rheumatology, Pediatric Infectious Disease, and General Pediatrics. They are also made by clinicians and educators across the Greater Chicagoland Community, including Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan. Patients seen by the program range in age from infants and toddlers to young adults. The referral network for the Service provides a rich opportunity for developing effective testing and diagnostic skills pertinent to working in a hospital based Pediatric Neuropsychology Service.

Training Requirements:

Extern applicants for the Pediatric Neuropsychology Service must meet the following criteria, in order to be considered as a candidate and accepted for training:

  • Be a current graduate student in good standing at an APA-approved doctoral program in Clinical or Counseling Psychology.
  • Have completed (or be currently taking at the time of application) graduate program coursework in Advanced Psychopathology, Diagnostic Interviewing, Psychological and Neuropsychological Assessment, Statistical Analysis, and Child/Adolescent Psychopathology. Additionally, it is strongly advised that coursework in Advanced Developmental Psychology have been taken, if available.
  • Have experience in the administration and scoring of both intellectual and academic achievement measures, such as the Wechsler Scales (WISC-IV, WPPSI-III/WPPSI-IV, WAIS-IV), Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery, Third Edition, and/or the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Third Edition (WIAT-III).
  • Have completed a minimum of one year of clinical practicum, in either Assessment or Intervention. It is acceptable to be currently pursuing that practicum during the application period.
  • Be working toward the completion of the MA/MS thesis, or completing the equivalent in training hours, as dictated by your program. At a minimum, the thesis must have been proposed and be nearing completion in order to be accepted as a trainee for this program.

Training Didactics and Supervision:

Participation in all Externship specific training experiences is required. This includes:

  • Attendance at the mandatory two week training in Neuropsychological Assessment that will certify the extern as a Neuropsychology Technician. It is conducted at the beginning of the externship (July), and provides training in the administration and scoring of the measures utilized by the Service, paperwork required for tracking patient assessments and care, and the day-to-day practices of the Service. At the end of the training seminar, externs are certified by Dr. Hunter as proficient in the skills required for identification as a Neuropsychology Technician at the University of Chicago
  • Weekly individual supervision with Dr. Hunter and/or Dr. Scott
  • Attendance at the Friday Neuropsychology Training Series:
    • Pediatric Clinical Neuroscience Seminar
    • Group Supervision

Externs can also attend a variety of didactic programs, beyond just the ones offered within the Neuropsychology Service. These include:

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience Grand Rounds:

Offers presentations on a wide variety of topics in mental health by renowned speakers from around the country. The seminar includes Clinical Grand Rounds and research presentations by faculty from within the department and the medical center, as well as researchers from outside the Chicago area.

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Colloquium Series:

Monthly presentations concerning current research and clinical practice topics relevant to child clinicians and trainees.

Guidelines and Expectations for Externs in Pediatric Neuropsychology

By agreeing to participate in this program as an extern, you will be expected to meet the goals outlined above, as well as individualized ones developed in tandem with the Director, and to follow the following rules and expectations:

  • You will commit to attending all required training programs and to being present, on time, for your clinical day each week. The practicum starts just after the July 4th holiday, and will end officially the last week of June the following year.
  • You obtain required certification as a Neuropsychology Technician through the completion of the Neuropsychological Assessment Seminar offered during the first two weeks of the externship.
  • On acceptance of the externship offer, you will be provided with and complete the Externship Contract, which will be signed by you and your Director of Clinical Training. If your program has its own contract, it should be provided to Dr. Hunter prior to the start of the externship year, for expeditious completion and return to you.
  • Your program will provide to Dr. Hunter and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience documented proof of your malpractice liability coverage through your University. This must be provided prior to the start of the externship.
  • You will complete all required health screening elements for the University of Chicago Medical Center; this will allow you to obtain your ID badge and work with patients.
  • You will complete HIPAA training requirements for the University of Chicago Medical Center.
  • If your program requires a quarterly or half-yearly review of your progress, please ensure that the appropriate forms are provided to the Director in a timely manner. Forms received less than two weeks before they are due will typically not be completed in time. If your program does not provide specific forms, Dr. Hunter will provide mid-year and final program completion reviews, which will be shared with you and your program, and kept on file with your documentation.
  • You are required to inform the Director of any needed time off during the year of training, in a very timely manner; this means typically requesting time off at least one month in advance of your absence. Emergencies are typically understood, however, and just need to be communicated expeditiously.
  • If you will be applying for internship during the training year, this must be discussed with the Director at the beginning of the externship. You will be expected to make suitable arrangements during the interview month (January), to ensure that your clinical and training duties are appropriately covered. It is not unusual that an extern will need to make scheduling changes; please discuss these with the Director as soon as possible.
  • Vacation time is scheduled around the clinic’s needs, not your academic schedule. This generally means that you might have a holiday from school at a time when the clinic is still open and seeing patients. The following is a good rule of thumb for your vacation and holiday planning: the Pediatric Neuropsychology Service is “closed to patients” on Independence Day; Labor Day; the Jewish High Holidays (if they occur during the work week); the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years; and typically for one week during the Spring term. Additional times that patients will not be seen may coincide with the National Academy of Neuropsychology and International Neuropsychological Society meetings, or other related professional meetings; this will occur, however, only if the Director and/or Staff Neuropsychologist decide to attend these meetings, and you will be informed of that situation fairly early on in the year.
  • Maternity (and paternity) leave is accommodated as may be required; however, it is important to recognize that you may need to make up some training time at the end of the externship, if your leave proves lengthy for any reason. The Director will be flexible with you and your graduate program, to ensure that your training goals are fully met and completed in a timely manner. The Service and the Department adhere to federal Family Medical Leave requirements.
  • Communication is the key for ensuring a good training experience, so please don’t hesitate to come and talk with Dr. Hunter about any difficulty, concern, or change that may need to be considered necessary during the year.
  • Have fun! This is meant to be both a challenge for you, in terms of stretching your skills and furthering your training, and to broaden your range of experiences.

Application for the Externship:

Students interested in applying for the Pediatric Neuropsychology externship should send the following to Dr. Hunter, preferably by electronic mail:
Letter of interest
Updated curriculum vita (CV)
Copy of current graduate transcript
Copy of a testing or diagnostic report you have written, that has been deidentified
Two letters of reference (one must be from a current faculty member supervising your training).

Submit application materials prior to the January 10, 2014 deadline to Dr. Scott Hunter at: shunter@uchicago.edu

 

Note: We offer additional training in the Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Clinic as a part of this externship. The application process is the same and more information is provided below.

ADVANCED PEDIATRIC NEUROPSYCHOLOGY EXTERNSHIP IN NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS

The Advanced Pediatric Neuropsychology Externship in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Rotation offers specialized training in the assessment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as well as neuropsychological evaluation of children and adolescents with other neurodevelopmental and genetic disorders. This is a multidisciplinary evaluation and consultation clinic in which patients are evaluated by team members from subspecialties including Psychiatry, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, and Pediatric Neuropsychology. The extern will learn to interview families around important developmental milestones and key symptoms of ASD. Externs will have the opportunity to observe and gain clinical training in the administration and interpretation of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2. Given the broad range of behavioral and cognitive presentation of patients in this clinic, externs will receive guidance in behavior management strategies to utilize during test session. The extern will gain experience in test selection, administration, interpretation of evaluation results, as well as providing feedback to families and other professionals regarding diagnostic impressions and recommendations. Given the multidisciplinary nature of this clinic, externs have the opportunity to participate in initial diagnostic evaluations conducted by psychiatry fellows as well as sit in on ongoing follow-up and medication management visits. The extern will attend weekly neuropsychology didactics and group supervision for pediatric neuropsychology as well as weekly case conference in ND Clinic. Dr. Megan Scott. directs this externship in collaboration with Dr. Sharon Hirsch.  In addition to the training requirements listed below, applicants interested in this advanced externship should have previously completed a training rotation in neuropsychology or developmental assessment. Interested applicants should apply to the general pediatric neuropsychology externship and note their interest in the advanced externship in their letter of interest.