About our department

The goal of the neuropsychology department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is to provide high-quality neuropsychological assessment and consultation for children while also generating empirically based neuropsychological research. The department consists of 11 neuropsychologists, two psychometrists and two postdoctoral fellows, as well as rotating predoctoral interns from the Emory University School of Medicine Doctoral Internship Program. The department supports other programs in our hospitals, including rehabilitation, sports medicine, neurosurgery and neurology. We also work with outside physicians and various clinics, such as the Genetics, Spina Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Neurofibromatosis Clinics, to coordinate an optimal care plan for each patient.

About the externship

As an extern in the neuropsychology department at Children’s, you will rotate throughout the training year with two different supervisors, spending one to two days a week in the department. Along with your supervisor, you may participate in initial parent interviews, and you will spend much of your time administering and scoring psychological tests. Your supervisor will meet with you to review evaluation results and help you develop a neuropsychological report. You and your supervisor may also meet with parents to review test results in detail and help address parent questions and concerns.

In addition to acquiring clinical externship hours and gaining exposure to many neurological conditions, students are encouraged to attend a weekly neuropsychology student meeting. This meeting is coordinated by neuropsychology fellows and designed to meet the interests and needs of externs, with relevant topics like testing, learning more about common diagnoses, and having a better understanding of test data and factors that impact testing. During the last part of the student seminar, students will present a case from their externship experiences. Students might also have the opportunity to work with their supervisors to gather research or clinical case information in an area of neuropsychological interest and present at a national conference.

After completion of the one-year diagnostic externship, students may choose to apply for the department’s additional learning opportunities to further their education and increase their competitiveness for postgraduate-level experiences.

Additional opportunities include:

Cognitive remediation provides a unique, personalized program that brings change by helping caregivers gain a better understanding of each child’s abilities. This approach focuses on a child’s or adolescent’s strengths to make up for his or her acquired weaknesses. It also focuses on rehabilitating known weaknesses through retraining and using a variety of techniques for learning. Students who wish to participate in the Cognitive Remediation Summer Program should already have completed the Pediatric Neuropsychology Externship. To apply for this program, contact Kathleen O’Toole, PhD, Neuropsychologist at Children’s.

Neuropsychologists at Children’s receive referrals from our coordinated team to provide assessment and management services for children with concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries. While many patients are initially managed by pediatricians and sports medicine physicians following their injuries, some children can have lingering effects from their concussions and may need to be evaluated by a neuropsychologist.

The Advanced Concussion Practicum includes conducting brief evaluations of patients, interviewing patients and families, and providing education and writing brief reports to support clinical management. Students are able to contribute and support institutional review board (IRB)-approved research. It is strongly encouraged to present at national conferences about concussion research.

Students who wish to receive advanced training in the Advanced Concussion Practicum should have already completed the Pediatric Neuropsychology Externship. To learn more about the Advanced Concussion Practicum and to apply, contact Jacqueline Kiefel, PhD, Neuropsychologist.

The Pediatric Psychology Practicum Consortium offers a training opportunity created specifically for students who have a strong interest in pediatric psychology and an ability to work quickly and efficiently in a clinical setting. Students will gain experience in several of our various healthcare programs and clinics, including:

Depending on the specialty area selected, these practicum positions are located at all three campuses—Egleston, Hughes Spalding and Scottish Rite hospitals. At each location, students will receive ongoing supervision of all work, with a minimum of one hour each week of individual supervision. Considerable additional training occurs in the context of multidisciplinary rounds, group supervision, supervision of students by postdoctoral fellows, in-service training, and child and adolescent psychiatry grand rounds.

Students who participate in the Advanced Rehabilitation Clinical and Research Practicum will see patients in our Inpatient Rehabilitation Program and Day Rehabilitation Program. The patient diagnoses that students will see include acquired injuries, new-onset illnesses, and various neurodevelopmental and chronic neurological conditions. Training experiences may include medical chart review, case presentation skills, working with multidisciplinary teams, assessment techniques during the early stage of cognitive recovery, serial monitoring of cognitive status on the inpatient unit, diagnostic interviewing and providing brain injury education to families. Students can also assist with discharge evaluations in the Day Rehabilitation Program. Interested graduate students must have completed the Pediatric Neuropsychology Externship. Additional assessment experience is preferred.

The rehabilitation research lab focuses on investigating functional and neurocognitive outcomes in children and adolescents with varying acquired brain injuries, ranging from traumatic brain injury to infectious disease. Our research lab works closely with other disciplines within Children’s and Emory University, including physiatry, neurosurgery, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology. We are looking for interested students who are enthusiastic, independent and enjoy working on a research team.

In order to be considered and to learn more information about the Advanced Rehabilitation Clinical and Research Practicum, contact Laura Blackwell, PhD, Neuropsychologist, and Robyn Howarth, PhD, Neuropsychologist.

What does the training schedule look like?

The training year for the Pediatric Neuropsychology Externship begins mid-August and ends mid-June, although some students choose to begin over the summer and conclude in December. Students are given vacation time for Thanksgiving, winter break, spring break and some additional major holidays. The externship schedule can be modified for each student and can include two full days, one full day or a half day. The day begins at 8 a.m. and ends between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Am I eligible?

Students must be enrolled in a graduate psychology program, with relevant programs being clinical neuropsychology, clinical psychology, school or educational psychology, and counseling. Students must have already taken the basic assessment course offered in the training programs. If there are questions regarding eligibility for this program, students should contact the clinical director of their program.

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