Students planning to pursue postdoctoral training in clinical neuropsychology have the advantage of a more clear-cut post-internship phase than many of their peers, thanks to the Association of Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Neuropsychology (APPCN). Each year, APPCN hosts a Resident Matching Program, a process that places applicants in postdocs throughout the United States and Canada.
Run much like the widely known Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) Internship Match, the APPCN postdoc match requires its applicants to interview with and rank their preferred training sites. Applicants who don't earn a slot on "Match Day" can vie for unfilled positions in APPCN's clearinghouse.
Only training sites that offer a postdoc experience that meets the standards established at the National Academy of Neuropsychology's 1998 Houston Conference on Specialty Education and Training in Clinical Neuropsychology can participate in the match: To qualify, programs must include a research component and have a board-certified neuropsychologist on staff, for example. Last year, 110 training programs participated in the match. Approximately 60 percent of applicants match in the initial round each year, says Deborah Weber, PhD, chair of the Association of Neuropsychology Students in Training, the student arm of APA's Div. 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology). Weber found her three-year postdoc in pediatric neuropsychology at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., through the 2004 APPCN match.
Unlike APPIC, APPCN doesn't ask its applicants to travel for interviews. Instead, for the most part applicants interview with trainers from prospective sites at the International Neuropsychology Society (INS) meeting, held each year in February. The approach has its ups and downs, applicants say. On one hand, participants can apply to more sites and save time and money on travel. On the other, applicants must make a separate trip if they want to see the site in person.
One-stop interviewing worked well for Stephanie Paulos, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore who found her postdoc through the 2007 APPCN match. Paulos secured interviews with 12 sites she was interested in and interviewed with all 12 during the conference.
Seem excessive? Not necessarily, says Brad Roper, PhD, an APPCN board member and director of the neuropsychology program at the Memphis VA Medical Center. While not everyone may be interested in 12 sites, it's wise to think big.
"Year after year, we find that the people who don't match tend to have rank order lists about half as long as those who do match," saysRoper. His advice? "Apply to as many programs as you think you might want to go to."
That said, the best way to ensure a match is to go in with plenty of neuropsychology experience, perhaps by taking extra coursework in neuroanatomy or joining a neuroscience research team, he says. Roper also advises potential applicants to attend a seminar on preparing for the APPCN match. The seminars are held every year during APA's Annual Convention and the INS annual meeting.
For more on the APPCN match, visit www.natmatch.com/appcnmat.