Pediatric Neuropsychology Fellowship Program
The Pediatric Neuropsychology unit of the Division of Clinical Behavioral Neuroscience provides a diagnostic service for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults with complex learning and behavioral disorders, both medical and neurodevelopmental in etiology. Patients are referred by medical staff at this hospital, clinics, and practitioners in the community. This unit serves the community, state, five-state area, and for specific disease entities, the entire country and individuals living internationally. We provide services to patients with varying cultural, racial, ethnic, linguistic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds and across the gender spectrum. The clinical orientation of the faculty is developmental. Our approach to neuropsychology is to integrate knowledge from neuropsychological testing with data from neurological, imaging, neurophysiological, and laboratory studies to quantify functional deficits in the context of the central nervous system using a developmental framework.
Our mission is to train pediatric neuropsychologists to be both practitioners and scientists.
As an Association of Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Neuropsychology member program, we provide training consistent with Houston Conference Guidelines. In fact, we are proud to announce that the University of Minnesota will host the Houston Conference Revision conference in September 2022. Our program provides rigorous clinical and didactic experiences to form the basis for neuropsychology boarding and specialty certification. Although the training is predominately clinically-based, it is rooted in strong research and academic foundations. Pediatric neuropsychology is an expanding field with a rapidly growing knowledge base that is evolving to reflect advances in technology in imaging, measurement of behavior and cognition, neurophysiology, and genetics. The field of pediatric neuropsychology is particularly challenging because children are dynamic developing organisms, with both an increased vulnerability to environmental effects and an increased capacity to recover from disease conditions. While training scientist-practitioners in this field is especially difficult for these reasons, it is rewarding in terms of the long-term benefits provided to children from the scientific information and clinical interventions we offer.
Clinical experience with a wide range of neurodevelopmental and neurologic disorders and establishment of a research direction for the fellow can only be attained in an intensive two-year program that will enable mastery of this large knowledge base. As a National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) designated Rare Disease Center of Excellence, pediatric neuropsychology fellows have the unique opportunity to develop expertise in the neuropsychological evaluation of rare medical conditions, including neurodegenerative disorders.
In our clinical setting, the fellow is expected to learn to integrate and organize information from multiple sources about the patient, including medical/neurological and allied health data, neuropsychological assessment, educational information, and interview and history. The focus is not only on cognitive, but on behavioral and emotional aspects of the child's functioning. Both environmental and biological factors are considered in the evaluation of the child in this setting. Thus, the fellow is expected not only to learn the techniques of neuropsychological assessment procedure, but also develop efficient data gathering skills through clinical interview and careful observation of the patient in the process of examination. The fellow is directly supervised on every case by a faculty neuropsychologist who is on-site during all aspects of the evaluation process. The fellow always carries out the detailed aspects of the evaluation. The fellow, together with the faculty, will, at the end of the visit, provide verbal feedback to the patient and/or their caregivers. To complete the process, consultation with medical, allied health, and educational professionals is an important role of the fellowship experience as well as follow-up with the family and at times, with school professionals.
Neuropsychological diagnostic services are provided for children and young adults with neurologic, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. For a diagnostic evaluation, cases are usually scheduled for a single-day of assessment. Occasionally for very complex cases, or cases in which the child is unable to complete an evaluation in a single visit, the child will be seen over two visits. These cases are always staffed and prepared with the supervisor prior to beginning the session. The supervisor also participates in the assessment through clinical interviews and feedback. Throughout the visit the supervising neuropsychologist is available on-site for consultation and immediate supervision. As list of reasons for referral is summarized in the link below:
Current research in our division is extensive. It includes studies of children with metabolic neurodegenerative diseases, cerebral malaria, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, genetic syndromes, prematurity, weight management, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, leukemia, and brain tumors, as well as normally developing populations. Studies in many of these areas include structural and functional neuroimaging as well as specialized approaches such as MR spectroscopy and diffusion tensor imaging. Additional research methods include event related potentials, behavior observation, neuropsychological assessment, and questionnaire development.
We are partners with the Center for Neurobehavioral Development, a collaborative clinical/research center including the Department of Pediatrics and the Institute of Child Development, as well as the Departments of Psychology, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Educational Psychology. In October 2021, we will be moving our research programs to the new Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain. This move will offer our fellows access to state-of-the-art facilities and increase opportunities for collaboration among faculty and learners across the medical school who are dedicated to fostering healthy brain development. Fellows in our program are required to be actively engaged in research or another scholarly activity throughout the fellowship. The fellow should expect to spend approximately one day a week working on their project. Most of our fellows have presented abstracts at national and international conferences and many have published work from fellowship in the form of peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters.
With a total of 5 fellows, 2 interns, and 1-2 practicum students, we are an established training program that provides a wealth of opportunities to learn about brain-behavior relationships from a developmental standpoint. Of the array of educational opportunities listed below, approximately 2 hours per week is required of fellows; other opportunities are optional:
- Occurring several times monthly, fellows regularly present at a case staffing/conference with other neuropsychology trainees and faculty. This is a teaching conference designed to develop trainees’ staffing efficiency and critical thinking skills, including differential diagnosis, test selection, and neuroanatomical correlates.
- Occurring several times monthly, a required pediatric neuropsychology seminar includes didactic presentations by the neuropsychology faculty and outside speakers, and topical presentations by fellows. Seminars on professional development are also offered.
- At a monthly test conference, critical reviews of the latest measurement techniques are presented in a rotating fashion by fellows and interns.
- This fall 2021, a new educational series sponsored by the Minneapolis Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Collaboration is being launched. Adult and pediatric neuropsychology fellows in the Twin Cities area will meet monthly for a 2-hour didactic and professional development seminar covering a range of neuropsychology-specific topics relevant to both professional practice and future board certification. A 2-hour diversity seminar will be held quarterly as part of this series.
- At a monthly joint collaboration between Pediatric Neuropsychology and Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics faculty and trainees, fellows rotate presenting cases of interest for interdisciplinary discussion.
- Pediatric, Neurology, and Psychiatry Grand Rounds are offered; attendance is generally optional according to the interests and availability of the fellow.
- The Center for Neurobehavioral Development typically offers monthly multi-disciplinary colloquia from Fall to Spring; attendance may either be optional or required in place of another didactic opportunity.
- Fellows also will obtain experience in clinical supervision by supervising graduate practicum students and, on occasion, interns, in Pediatric Neuropsychology. They will also occasionally have medical residents/fellows shadowing their clinic to learn the role of neuropsychologists in patient care.
- Finally, fellows typically run a monthly peer consultation group for the Pediatric Neuropsychology trainees and psychometrists. This group offers the opportunity for peer supervision and discussion without supervisors present.
Applicants are expected to have a PhD or PsyD from an APA-approved program, preferably in clinical or school psychology, and to have completed an APA-approved internship with an assessment component. It is expected that the applicant will have internship level training in child and neuropsychological assessment.
We are currently recruiting for two fellowship slots. Start date is 8/31.
To apply, send a letter of professional goals, current curriculum vitae, two de-identified neuropsychological report samples, graduate transcripts, and three letters of reference (preferably two clinical supervisors and one academic/research mentor) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Application deadline is January 4, 2022. Interviews will be conducted virtually.
Faculty & Mentorship
Supervision is a particular strength of our training program. For clinical cases, fellows will have the opportunity to be supervised by each of our faculty members during their training. In addition, the fellow also chooses a faculty member for primary mentorship. Some fellows prefer to select a mentor that provides more general professional guidance, others will select a mentor based on shared research interests and the desire to develop for themselves some aspect of a faculty member's program of research. These arrangements may be made prior to starting the fellowship, if it is a position funded by a specific research program that the fellow wants to pursue.
Kelly King, PhD, ABPP-CN
Julie Eisengart, PhD
Alicia Kunin-Batson, PhD, LP
Elizabeth (Rene) Pierpont, PhD
The current fellow salary is $54,840. Benefits include health insurance (a family plan is available for a fee), life insurance, 22 working days of vacation per year, and a $500 a year conference stipend. Fellowship contracts are on a yearly basis, with the expectation that fellows will stay for two years.