Q&A with Mary M. Machulda, PhD, ABPP
Mayo Graduate School of Medicine,
Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN)
Mary M. Machulda, PhD, ABPP, directs the neuropsychology postdoctoral fellowship program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She is board certified in clinical neuropsychology and holds the academic rank of Assistant Professor of Psychology. Her main research interests focus on the study of normal aging and mild cognitive impairment as well neurodegenerative speech and language disorders. She is part of interdisciplinary research teams consisting of members from the Mayo Clinic Departments of Psychiatry/Psychology and Neurology, MRI Research Laboratory, and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging.
The Clinical Neuropsychology Specialty Program at Mayo Clinic Rochester emphasizes an integration of science and practice. Didactic and experiential opportunities prepare the fellows for advanced practice as clinical neuropsychologists in academic health care settings. The training objectives of the program reflect a commitment to the development of psychologists who are scientist-practitioners with specialized clinical skills.
Our program promotes a depth of experiences in clinical neuropsychology to refine clinical, research and teaching skills. Our program emphasizes both the use of existing scientific evidence based on research to inform clinical practice as well as the development of clinical and translational research to advance and refine understanding of brain-behavior relationships. All fellows also have protected research time (30%) and protected educational time to attend grand rounds and the seminar series.
Clinical opportunities include a minimum of 12 months conducting outpatient neuropsychological assessments. Primary referral sources include neurology, internal medicine and psychiatry. Fellows also spend a minimum of 2 months during their first year on the inpatient Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation unit located at St. Marys hospital where they develop skills in mental status evaluations, clinical interviews, consultation and working together in a multidisciplinary treatment team. During the remaining time, fellows tailor elective rotations to acquire additional knowledge that will augment their skills in clinical neuropsychology and support their future career goals. Some examples include: Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking (HABIT) program, Dementia Behavior and Response Team (DBART), Traumatic Brain Injury Outpatient Program, Behavioral Neurology, Inpatient General Neurology and Stroke Services, Speech/Language Pathology, Neuropathology, Neuroradiology, and Sleep Medicine.
The term “goodness of fit” is often used to describe how training sites make ranking decisions among groups of often highly competitive applicants. Please briefly describe how you determine goodness of fit. What qualities do you particularly look for when selecting candidates for your program?
Beyond meeting the minimal requirements of our program, we evaluate “goodness of fit” based on applicants’ prior training experiences, expressed interests and how these blend with the training opportunities we provide at our site, and letters of reference. We also strongly support board certification in Clinical Neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and seek applicants with this as a stated career goal.
You completed your own postdoctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic, where you now direct the neuropsychology postdoctoral training program. To what extent do you think postdoctoral training experiences typically influence subsequent career trajectories?
Each training program has unique features in terms of style of practice, clinical populations served, research opportunities, etc that can influence one’s career choices and subsequent career trajectory. The individual’s experiences, and particularly the research exposure during fellowship, often engender particular interests and expertise in a specific area that provides the foundation on which to build a career.
APPCN has been working toward streamlining the postdoctoral application process; however, not all programs are APPCN members, and the diversity among program structures and application procedures can seem overwhelming. What factors should applicants especially consider when determining where to apply and how to rank choices?
Some factors that applicants should consider when determining where to apply and how to rank choices include the degree to which the following are consistent with the preferences of the applicant: (1) the training philosophy of the program, (2) clinical populations served, (3) didactic offerings, (4) research opportunities, (5) the success rate of graduates of the program in finding employment, and (6) the types of settings in which graduates of the program are employed.
With how much hard work goes into building a strong CV, students definitely want to be able to present all that work as effectively as possible. What are some of your biggest "do’s and don’t's" regarding how applicants should write and organize their CVs?
Some “do’s” include providing a complete chronology of all educational, clinical, and research experiences (and accounting for any gaps in training) and highlighting points that support your candidacy, such as presentations at meetings, working on a grant funded research project, honors/awards, etc. Some “don’t’s” include “padding” your CV with unpublished research and providing excessive detail - particularly of experiences that predate your graduate school career.
For more information about neuropsychology training opportunities at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN), please visit their program website.