Neuro-psych combined program competitiveness
I'm currently a final-year student at the University of Sydney in Australia. I'm hoping to go into neuropsychiatry, and I'm trying to figure out what I can do (if anything) to poise myself for a spot in a combined neuro/psych spot for 2013. My future research interests would benefit greatly from combined training... I'd like to study the behavioral aspects of different somatic influences (i.e. specific neurotransmitters, functional imaging, etc.).
The problem is that my research background doesn't really focus much on this... most of my past experience is completely unrelated to neuro or psych, except for one abstract at this year's Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine conference and the paper that will eventually spawn from that abstract. I have a couple of great rec letters from American psychiatrists - one who is also a pain specialist and one who is also an internist, both at Tulane - but none from neurologists.
As an IMG, is there much I can do to improve my chances? I'm taking Step 1 in about 2 weeks and I'm anticipating a score in the 240-250 range if my last NBME practice test was any indicator. I'm planning to take Step 2 in December and go on the interview trail in January/February. I'll also be able to do 8 weeks of away Sub-I's in January and February... of course, that'll be too late for a rec letter, but I figure it might help me audition for a residency.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I'm not sure if I should have posted this in the psych section or the neuro section, but the combined section seemed appropriate...
It sounds like you are interested in psychiatry. Apply to psychiatry not neuro-psych programs which are few and far between and are a dying breed. There is no need for them. They likely will not have enough elective time for research. Also you will not get enough psychotherapy training if you do a combined program (something has to go) and this is important especially if you are interested in biological aspects of psychiatry. Yeah you read that right.
What you are describing is not neuropsychiatry. But biological psychiatry. Research in biological psychiatry would include genetics, proteomics, functional imaging, developmental neurobiology, psychopharmacology, endocrinology - trying and failing to find elusive biomarkers for psychiatric disorders (which is a non-starter why would you expect to find genes or markers for arbitrary constructs we've made up?)
Neuropsychiatry deals with the cognitive and behavioral aspects of neurological disorders such as dementia, parkinson's disease, epilepsy, Tourette's syndrome, traumatic brain injury, stroke, HSV encephalitis, AIDS, MS and so on. Neuropsychiatrists may also deal with dissociative disorders such as depersonalization, derealization, conversion disorder, fugue states, amnesia etc. You could do a 1-2 year neuropsychiatry fellowship following residency if you were interested in this. There are also fellowships in behavioral or cognitive neurology, some of which may be open to psychiatrists. These are not accredited fellowships by the ABPN but are offer a stepping stone to research. BWH, Hopkins, UCLA and UCSF have pretty good clinical and research in these areas though the latter focuses more on neurodegenerative disease than the others.
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