Degrees: B.S. in Psychology (Neuroscience Track), Minor in Biology; UMass Amherst
M.S. in Clinical Psychology, Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology; Antioch University New England
Current Position Title and Affiliation: Pediatric Neuropsychologist at Boston Neuropsychological Services
Summary of Position:
Broadly stated, neuropsychology is the study of brain-behavior relationships. As a pediatric neuropsychologist, I provide neuropsychological evaluations, which typically includes a combination of neurocognitive, psychological, and behavioral assessments to evaluate children's cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning. My training has largely consisted of evaluating children within both medical and psychiatric settings—including both inpatient units and outpatient clinics.
Children are referred to neuropsychology by their pediatricians, psychiatrists, neurologists, oncologists, developmental specialists, therapists (psychology, speech/language, occupational therapy, physical therapy), and other specialty providers. While children often present to neuropsychology with a range of different referral questions, I have worked with children, adolescents, and young adults with various psychiatric illnesses spanning the spectrum of psychopathology, as well as medical (e.g., epilepsy, brain tumors, leukemias), neurodevelopmental (e.g., congenital issues, genetic disorders, birth defects, prenatal traumas), and acquired conditions (e.g., traumatic brain injuries).
I completed my formal training within both academic medical center and teaching hospital settings—including my predoctoral internship/residency at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital/Connecticut Children's Medical Center consortium and my postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University. I have since transitioned to private practice, and now work for a local group practice in Needham, MA.
Clinical neuropsychology is a subspecialty designation within Clinical Psychology. Most neuropsychologists attend doctoral programs in psychology, and then subsequently seek out pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training opportunities in neuropsychology. Once formally trained in clinical neuropsychology (which requires completion of an accredited neuropsychology post-doctoral fellowship, amongst several other training requirements), many of us—myself included—hope to then seek board certification in clinical neuropsychology. Board certification is an onerous, several-year process that certifies our clinical expertise in the field. In addition to my future goal of becoming a board certified clinician, I hope to also engage in clinical advocacy efforts to expand the accessibility of neuropsychology both locally and around the globe.
What do you love most about this career path?
The kids! There is nothing more refreshing than working with children every day, and nothing as rewarding as being an advocate to a child or adolescent navigating a difficult circumstance. Brain science is also pretty cool, and I love having the opportunity to educate patients and their families about the ways our brains guide our behaviors, emotions, and just about everything that we do.
How did UMass and/or Psychological and Brain Sciences help prepare you?
I have to thank the Commonwealth Honors College for encouraging me to seek out opportunities that I may not have independently sought out myself, from clinical externship opportunities to my senior capstone research project. Most memorably, I spent my four years of undergrad working in Dr. Eric Bittman's lab—and I have him to thank for providing me with a strong foundation in neuroanatomy to make my graduate school neuroanatomy courses and training even just slightly less overwhelming. A lot of what I did at UMass outside of my coursework was heavily loaded in neuroendocrinology and sleep medicine, which I certainly appreciate now as a clinical specialist in the field.
Tips for Current Undergrads:
Don't be afraid to try new things, explore different opportunities, change your mind, and follow your heart. If something seems interesting to you, go for it! There can be a lot of external pressure to find your way quickly, but don't let that put you at risk of pigeonholing yourself into a major or career path that doesn't leave you feeling totally fulfilled. Your undergraduate years are the perfect time to learn about yourself, what you're good at, and what brings you joy—take advantage of this opportunity as best as you can. And above all else, enjoy your time at Amherst—because once it's over, you'll realize that there's nothing else quite like it.