Neuropsychologists and Clinical Neuropsychologists
Exploring this Job
A good way to learn more about this career is through a part-time or summer job in the clinic or office of a neuropsychologist. Volunteering at a local hospital, clinic, or nursing home is another way to gain experience in working with patients. Conduct an informational interview with a professional working in the field to find out the steps they took to get where they are today. Ask your school's career services office for help with finding job and internship opportunities. If you are more interested in working in research, join your school's science club, which may offer the opportunity to work on projects, document the process, and work as part of a team.
Get involved in a professional association to network with people working in neuropsychology and for access to educational programs and conferences. Find information on the Web sites of such organizations as the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology, https://theaacn.org, and the National Academy of Neuropsychology, https://nanonline.org/nan. Other Web sites that offer helpful information include Mental Health America at https://www.mhanational.org and the American Psychological Association at https://www.apa.org.
Neuropsychologists posess deep knowledge of the brain, the anatomy of the central nervous system, and neurological disease. Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty field of clinical psychology that assesses patients with brain injuries or diseases that have affected their cognitive abilities and behavior, and makes recommendations for therapy. They may suggest behavior management, cognitive rehabilitation, psychotherapy, or strategies for coping.
Neuropsychologists may evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients with injuries such as brain damage from an accident. Other injuries and diseases that may require the expertise of neuropsychologists include Alzheimer's or other types of dementia, Parkinson's, epilepsy, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or brain damage due to exposure to toxic substances or chemicals.
Neuropsychologists may specialize in treating only adults or they may specialize as pediatric neuropsychologists. They may be staff members at a treatment center for children at a large general hospital or a child guidance clinic. Other clinical neuropsychologists may work in private practice, seeing clients at offices.
Neuropsychologists meet with patients and interview them for initial assessments. They gather patients' medical histories, and conduct neuropsychological evaluations to determine such things as patients' level of attention, concentration, language skills, intelligence, academic ability, sensorimotor function, and their memory. Neuropsychologists keep records and take notes throughout their interviews with patients. They research and write reports, gathering data from patient interviews, neuropsychological or psychological tests, rating scales, direct observations, and other sources. They also educate and counsel patients and their families about coping with different disorders.
Strong knowledge of human behavior and performance, therapy and counseling principles, as well as technology are essential in the neuropsychology profession. Daily work involves using various computer software programs for research, data capture, and creating reports. The types of software programs most neuropsychologists and clinical neuropsychologists must be well versed in include analytical and scientific software, such as Noldus Information Technology The Observer and SPSS; medical software, such as Behavioral Assessment and Research System (BARS), BrainMetric The Category Test, and BrainTrain The Captain's Log; as well as e-mail software, and Microsoft Office and Excel.