Neuropsych internship questions

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sike

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Hi all -- long time reader, first time poster here.

I am planning on applying to neuropsych (NP) track internships in the fall and would love to hear your thoughts on the following:

1. I know there is widely varying advice on the number of sites to apply to, but given that there is typically only one NP intern per site (e.g., at VA's), doesn't it make sense to generally increase the number of sites one applies to if going the NP route? I am thinking that I need to apply to 20-25 sites for safety, particularly since I'm coming from a non-NP program (I've pieced together most of the coursework suggested in the Houston guidelines) and will have only 1.5 years of NP practicum experience by the time I apply for internship. Do people agree with my reasoning about the need to increase number of sites, or is this not warranted?

2. How many neuropsych assessment hours are expected for applicants? As I mentioned, I will have 1.5 years of NP practicum experience, which I'm assuming is less than most NP applicants. I haven't added up the number of hours yet, but I'm fairly certain that I'm not going to meet the 400 median NP assessment hours (direct contact) that was reported as desired by Training Directors for NP tracks in the Ritchie et al (2012) article (Selection Criteria for Internships in Clinical Neuropsychology). I guess I'm having trouble digesting that figure -- 400 hours of just NP assessment seems rather high, and there was quite a great deal of variability in the sample (e.g., mean expected hours = 575; SD = 506??!). I do have plenty of other assessment hours, and it is entirely possible that my overall assessment hours will total 400 (I definitely need to finish logging those hours...).

Thanks for your help!

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Hi all -- long time reader, first time poster here.

I am planning on applying to neuropsych (NP) track internships in the fall and would love to hear your thoughts on the following:

1. I know there is widely varying advice on the number of sites to apply to, but given that there is typically only one NP intern per site (e.g., at VA's), doesn't it make sense to generally increase the number of sites one applies to if going the NP route? I am thinking that I need to apply to 20-25 sites for safety, particularly since I'm coming from a non-NP program (I've pieced together most of the coursework suggested in the Houston guidelines) and will have only 1.5 years of NP practicum experience by the time I apply for internship. Do people agree with my reasoning about the need to increase number of sites, or is this not warranted?

2. How many neuropsych assessment hours are expected for applicants? As I mentioned, I will have 1.5 years of NP practicum experience, which I'm assuming is less than most NP applicants. I haven't added up the number of hours yet, but I'm fairly certain that I'm not going to meet the 400 median NP assessment hours (direct contact) that was reported as desired by Training Directors for NP tracks in the Ritchie et al (2012) article (Selection Criteria for Internships in Clinical Neuropsychology). I guess I'm having trouble digesting that figure -- 400 hours of just NP assessment seems rather high, and there was quite a great deal of variability in the sample (e.g., mean expected hours = 575; SD = 506??!). I do have plenty of other assessment hours, and it is entirely possible that my overall assessment hours will total 400 (I definitely need to finish logging those hours...).

Thanks for your help!

I'll give my take:

1) I actually found it to be the case that at most sites to which I applied, they accepted multiple NP-track interns. That, or the entire site could be considered neuropsych-oriented, and there just weren't any separate tracks at all. I don't think anyone would say you're being outlandish by applying to 20-25 sites, but I personally stuck with 15 and found it to feel like enough.

2) My knee-jerk, gut reaction is to say that 400 hours of direct NP assessment actually seems a bit low. I could be way off in that assessment, but I want to say that many of the applications I've reviewed have typically had 600+. However, if you meet the site's minimum requirements for F2F hours, and if your practica experiences have been in fairly diverse settings, I'd imagine you should be ok on that front.
 
1) When I applied, I'd say the split was that about 25% of the sites I applied to only had 1 neuropsych intern, and 75% had at least 2. I think you'll run into diminishing returns after 15ish sites.

2) As AA said, 400 npsych direct hours is on the low side for a npsych focused student. Like him, our competitive applicants generally have at least 500.
 
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I've spoken with my neuropsych training director and she suggested around 50% of your assessment hours is a good goal to aim for (e.g. 600 assessment hours and 300 intervention hours). Would that be accurate?


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I've spoken with my neuropsych training director and she suggested around 50% of your assessment hours is a good goal to aim for (e.g. 600 assessment hours and 300 intervention hours). Would that be accurate?
Sounds reasonable to me. I've heard of applications being tossed because intervention hours were too low, suggesting that someone might not have the broader clinical skills necessary to manage difficult populations.
 
No real magic bullet for numbers or ratios. Way too many permutations. For example, were nearly all of the person's hours accrued through a university clinic? Did they accrue a ton of neuro hours through an unknown PP, or a well-known AMC/VA? As a very rough rule, I guess the numbers to aim for are an ok starting point, but they're really just the beginning when it comes to an application review.
 
**I don't review internship apps anymore…so take my comments with a grain of salt.**

I always looked at #'s as a way to get a feel for a person's experience, but rarely if ever did someone get an interview over someone else solely because they had more hours. Someone might have gotten cut for a true lack of hours, but there were a lot of other considerations (at least for me) when I reviewed applications. When I saw someone with a ton of hours but no research productivity and/or presentations it put up a red flag, particularly for neuro folks. A balanced applications can make up for someone who is short on some hours or may not have had great exposure to a given population or setting.
 
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So it sounds like it's a combination of aspects (hours, what type of settings for hours accrued, reputable vs. unreputable settings, etc.) to display a more comprehensive experience? And low number of hours seems like more of an exclusion criteria vs. inclusion criteria?
 
So it sounds like it's a combination of aspects (hours, what type of settings for hours accrued, reputable vs. unreputable settings, etc.) to display a more comprehensive experience? And low number of hours seems like more of an exclusion criteria vs. inclusion criteria?
Yep, that's a great summary. There are a number of factors, but more often than not, as you've said, it's an exclusionary (i.e., too few hours) rather than inclusionary (e.g., lots and lots of hours) component.
I would also suggest that having too MANY hours can look odd depending on how it is distributed. It could suggest that there is inadequate supervision, or that the student has added them up wrong, or "why do they have so many hours?" questions where they might wonder if there is a reason for them not advancing along sooner.

That is not to discourage folks who have a lot of hours. But if you know you are going to be on the high end (maybe after not matching one year or something), maybe be prepared to address that in your cover letter if it looks unusual. For instance, let's say your advisor left your school and you had to scrap your dissertation idea and start over, so you took an extra year and an extra practicum. I'd explain that because it is better than letting the application reviewers speculate.
 
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