I have a general interest in neuropsychology and for that reason I am often asked how one goes about becoming a "clinical neuropsychologist". Although this is not a protected title, clinical neuropsychologists are generally regarded as those people who hold "Practitioner Full Membership
" of the Division of Neuropsychology, of the British Psychological Society, and are on the DoN's Specialist Register of Clinical Neuropsychologists.To obtain "Practitioner Full Membership" of the DoN (and be eligible to be put on the Specialist Register) you must complete the BPS Qualification in Clinical Neuropsychology (QiCN).
It is quite possible that in the near future, only Practitioner Full Members of the DoN (and maybe those registered on the QiCN) will be legally allowed to use the title "Clinical Neuropsychologist". With politics in mind, but also because I think this would be a useful resource for those people interested in pursuing a career in clinical neuropsychology; I have outlined the process below.A quick caveat - it is not necessary to pursue the QiCN to get a job in neuropsychology. However, from experience, employers (particularly in neuropsychology departments) tend to want you to enrol on this program if you are sticking around and want to progress.What is the QiCN and am I eligible?
The QiCN is an advanced professional qualification that requires you to already be trained as a clinical or educational psychologist. So if you're not already trained, you need to complete a doctorate in clinical or education psychology first.
Once you've done this, you must also become chartered with the BPS, and register with the Health Professions Council as an applied psychologist. You must uphold both these prerequisites throughout the QiCN, which is 2 years full time (during your normal work).
There are two strands: Adult
. You must choose one of these strands. It is possible to do both at once, but this takes 3 years and should be discussed with the BPS (it is extremely rare).Ok, I'm an HPC registered Clinical or Educational Psychologist. Now what?
Now, or at least prior to registering for the QiCN, you need to get a job in a suitable place of work that will give you access to appropriate clients/patients. This isn't a 100% absolute necessity, but bear in mind that if you don't have access to different clients with a range of neuropsychological presentations you won't be able to complete your clinical portfolio (more on this later).YES! I've got a job in a neuropsychology or other appropriate service! Sign me up!
Well, nearly. You need to convince a supervisor, who is already a Full Practitioner Member of the DoN to agree to provide supervision throughout the QiCN. If they are not already approved by the DoN, they will need to gain approval within 12 months of your acceptance onto the programme.OK, I've got a supervisor. What next?
You need to submit all the relevant documents to the QiCN administrators (details available on the BPS website). This includes a plan of training and supervision.OK, I'm registered, what does the programme look like?
Basically, you have to do everything yourself. The QiCN is not a taught programme, it is essentially a set of criteria and competencies that you need to fullfil whilst you work.
The QiCN consists of three "dimensions" that you must fulfil:1) KNOWLEDGE
This includes background, assessment, disorders, and management. This is assessed by two essays and four exams. It is your own responsibility to learn all of this, and some people choose to enrol on external post-graduate programmes such as the PGDip/MSc in Clinical Neuropsychology at Glasgow University (which provides the knowledge-base needed). It is important to note that the completion of post-graduate taught programmes in clinical neuropsychology, such as the Glasgow course, does not in itself confer eligibility for Practitioner Full Membership of the DoN.
If you already hold a BPS accredited post-graduate degree in clinical neuropsychology, you may be eligible for exemption from this dimension.2) RESEARCH
You will need to conduct relevant research, or present previous neuropsychological research (e.g. if your doctoral thesis was relevant, or if you have recently published as a first author on one paper, or a series of papers on the same topic). You also need to submit a research log and attend a viva voce.
If you have a substantial history of neuropsychological research and publication, or a PhD in neuropsychology, you may be eligible for exemption from this dimension.3) PRACTICE
This dimension is comprised of a clinical portfolio: a record of all the cases you have seen over a two year period (or part-time equivalent). You also need to submit a supervision log and six case studies (3x 3000 words; and 3x 5000 words). This dimension is also examined by viva voce.
The clinical portfolio should cover a range of neuropsychological presentations and so it may be necessary to seek clients from outside of your main service by arrangement with secondary supervisors as necessary. It is not expected that you'll see every presentation under the sun, but you do need to demonstrate competencies in the assessment and management of a wide variety of clients.
If you have a substantial history of practice in neuropsychology, you may be eligible for exemption from this dimension (this is rarer).
As mentioned above, fulfilling all of these dimensions requires 2 years full time practice (or part-time equivalent).How much does this all cost?
Fee information is available via the BPS website. At the time of writing, it works out around £2000-3000 per year, assuming you don't have to resubmit anything, which will cost you more. Some people get full or partial funding from their employers.I've done it! Have I passed?
Possible outcomes are: Distinction, Pass, Conditional Pass (minor corrections), or Fail (with or without another viva voce). All resubmissions are subject to further fees.
Failure of any third submission constitutes failure of the QiCN. As fees are non-refundable, you should probably try to avoid this.I've passed! Am I a Neuropsychologist?
Once you've gained the QiCN you are eligible for Practitioner Full Membership of the DoN, and entry onto the DoN's Specialist Register of Clinical Neuropsychologists. After a bit more experience, you can seek approval as a QiCN supervisor (and attend a relevant training course).
Although the title is not protected, it would seem this is the most appropriate time to refer to yourself as a clinical neuropsychologist, if that's what you want.
More detailed information, including fees and past papers, can be obtained from the QiCN Downloads Page on the BPS website
I do hope this introductory guide to becoming a clinical neuropsychologist is helpful to those interested parties.