Student Mentorship Program

The mentoring program is designed to connect neuropsychology students and trainees with board certified neuropsychologists and early career neuropsychologists with plans to pursue the board certification process who are willing to serve as mentors to students with questions. Mentors and mentees will be matched based on responses to an online survey. Keep in mind that while we will do our best to match you based on your preferences,  we are limited by who is available as a mentor. It will take us some time to get you matched, so please be patient with us.

We encourage everyone participating in the SAC Mentorship Program, or who may be considering joining the program, to review the following brief documents and resources.

  • What was your path to a career in neuropsychology? Did you specialize early or later in your graduate school career?
  • If I want to obtain more research experience, where would be a good place to start?
  • Given my CV and career goals, what are some specific steps you think I could take to improve my areas of weakness?
  • What is the difference between different clinical careers (i.e. academic medical center, private practice, etc.)?
  • Do I need to participate in an APA or APPIC approved internship to be a neuropsychologist?
  • At the outset of mentorship, you should discuss preferred communication methods, as well as a reasonable schedule for meeting. Ideally, you should communicate with your mentor once per month via phone, email, Skype, or in-person.
    • Be sure you take the initiative to contact your mentor well in advance of deadlines. It might be a good idea to discuss busy times of year at the start of the mentorship. A good initial question for your mentor may be when should I start preparing for graduate school/internship/fellowship applications?
    • Always respond to a mentor’s feedback or contact even if it’s just a thank you or to let them know you don’t need anything right now.
    • If you find you no longer have time to participate in the program, please alert your mentor and the SAC mentoring task force as soon as possible. 
  • Ask for guidance well in advance of applying for jobs or training opportunities. 
    • All mentors are familiar with the field of clinical neuropsychology, although some may have a different emphasis than you are interested in. They should still be able to help with broad questions.
    • You mentor may be able to put you in touch with a colleague who does share your specific interests. 
  • Take the opportunity to discuss potential career paths and choosing training opportunities well in advance of deadlines. 
  • Always remain professional in communications with your mentor.
    • Any mentor or mentee who communicates in a disrespectful way will be excluded from the program.
    • If you feel you are not receiving professional communication, notify the SAC mentorship task force immediately (contact: aacnmentors@gmail.com)
    • Upon completion of the mentorship relationship, be sure to end the relationship cordially (do not just disappear) in order to maintain professionalism.
  • Understand that mentors are providing advice based on their personal opinions and experience. If you need information about specific requirements or deadlines be sure to obtain this information directly from the organizations involved (i.e. training sites, AACN, ABPP, etc.).
    • AACN or the SAC will not be monitoring mentorship communications and cannot guarantee any of the information provided. Remember that you are ultimately responsible for obtaining reliable information with regard to training requirements, deadlines, etc. 
    • Always consult multiple resources when making career decisions. If additional materials are required many can be found at www.theaacn.org
  • Identify your end goal (e.g. board certification in clinical neuropsychology) and create a timeline moving backward of realistic stepping stones that will move you to that goal (e.g. complete two-year postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology, complete APA approved internship with a specialization in neuropsychology).
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your CV (research, clinical background, professional involvement, etc.). Develop specific action steps you can take to improve your areas of weakness. 
  • For those applying for internship/postdoctoral/jobs, what are the most important factors for you when considering an opportunity (location, salary, specific research opportunities, etc.)? Consider how you might rank these factors when making decisions.
  • Communicate with your mentee via phone, email, or in-person at a frequency that is realistic and mutually determined and be prepared for more frequent contact during busy times of the year (e.g. interview season for internship and postdoctoral fellowship). 
    • Be aware that training opportunities often cluster around times of year that are busy for everyone in the field, so prompt your mentee early if you think your time will be limited during critical periods (e.g. internship interviews, job applications, etc.)
    • If you no longer have the time to communicate with your mentee once per month, alert the mentee and the SAC mentorship task as soon as possible so he/she can be paired with another mentor. 
    • Make an effort to meet in person when possible. Check with your mentee about attendance at major conferences if you don’t live nearby.
  • Be prepared to offer guidance around applying for jobs, career paths, training decisions, , how to prepare for interviews, etc. 
    • Try to identify specific short-term goals and create action steps. A lot of students may know where they want to end up, but lack knowledge about how to get there. 
    • Not all mentees will have the exact same goals as their mentors. Your role may be to help the mentee find their own career path and help them connect with professionals who might be helpful.
  • If your mentee doesn’t have questions, don’t be frustrated. 
    • A lot of students don’t know where to start. Review the suggested mentorship goals as a starting point 
  • As you feel comfortable, provide the student with help networking with other neuropsychology professionals. 
    • Many students are not familiar with appropriate networking. If you feel comfortable, demonstrate good networking with appropriate boundaries. 
  • Offer to edit and view CVs and cover letters during application periods. 
    • This may be the most practical role you can play in your mentees training experience. If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t have the time to do this, have some ideas in mind for others who might be able to review application documents and provide feedback.
  • Always remain professional in communications with your mentee.
    • Any mentor or mentee who communicates in a disrespectful way will be excluded from the program.
    • If you feel you are not receiving professional communication, notify the SAC mentorship task force immediately. 

Upon initiating a mentorship relationship, you should have established an end goal (e.g., obtain a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology, achieve board certification in clinical neuropsychology, etc.). Once this goal has been met, the official mentorship relationship has reached its conclusion.

There are multiple reasons for ending an official mentorship relationship including: 

  • The end goal has been successfully met.
  • The end goal has changed (e.g., the individual chooses a different career path), and specific mentorship in towards a career in neuropsychology is no longer needed.
  • Necessary contact is so infrequent (i.e., >6 months between needs) that there is no longer appreciable value in the relationship, and the mentor resources may be more advantageous to another mentee. 

Guidance on how to determine if a mentorship continues to be of appreciable value:

  • Is the mentor continuing to provide practical guidance, advice, and support?
  • Is the mentor continuing to provide knowledge and/or life experience?
  • Is the mentor continuing to actively support intellectual growth and development?
  • Examples of the above may include: (1) providing insight into professional development processes for those without academic guidance for a neuropsychology career, (2) introduction and entry into the professional community, (3) research production mentorship, or (4) an objective voice about career goals and the steps to reach them.

Steps to officially end a mentorship relationship:

  1. When either the mentor or the mentee feels as though the mentorship relationship is no longer of appreciable value, they are encouraged to reach out to the other party in the mentorship relationship to ensure that she or he is in agreement. 
  2. If so, both parties should contact aacnmentors@gmail.com to express the agreed upon dissolution of the official mentorship relationship.
  3. All parties will receive confirmation from the committee to confirm the resolution of the mentorship.

Officially terminating a mentorship relationship does not preclude ongoing contact and occasional support. Rather, it expresses that there is no longer a need for regular contact between parties. “Regular” should be operationalized by the mentor and mentee at the start of the mentorship but should include contact and support occurring at least once in a 6-month period. 

The AACN SAC Mentor Award honors the contributions to outstanding mentoring of students and early career neuropsychologists by recognizing the dedication and impact of individuals with a distinguished record of advising and encouraging successful mentees. The mentor award honors individuals who have contributed to the advancement of neuropsychology through the excellence in the training of the next generation of leaders in neuropsychology. Click here for more information regarding this award and nomination procedures.