Behavioral Medicine Practicum

The Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation hosts a 2-year advanced clinical practicum in Behavioral Medicine in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program.  Students participate in the practicum during year 3 with the option of an additional year in year 4 of their doctoral training. The Northwestern Behavioral Medicine practicum is an advanced practicum that is available only after completing a year-long practicum in a traditional mental health population in the 2nd year of the doctoral program.

The overarching goal of the practicum is to establish basic and advanced skills in health psychology assessment and intervention across a wide range of patient populations and settings.  Cognitive-behavior therapy is the primary mode of intervention across rotations.  NMFF has 26 licensed health psychologists on its premises and therefore a wide acceptance for behavioral medicine in the medical practice as well as several extracurricular training opportunities for interested students in Year Two.

Year One

Year One of the Northwestern Behavioral Medicine practicum focuses on breadth of experience, preparing students to work within a multidisciplinary team in both inpatient and outpatient medical settings.  During this year, students spend considerable time gaining exposure to disease content and psychological applications, observation of health psychologists in various settings, conducting intakes and surgery evaluations, as well as mastering report writing and the ethics and considerations associated with communication with non-psychologist team members.  Students also carry up to 5 outpatient psychotherapy cases, which they acquire during their rotations and see independently with supervision throughout the year.  There are 5 Core Areas of training during the first year—Sleep Medicine, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Bariatrics and Weight Management, Consult-Liaison (CL) and Smoking Cessation.  Students engage in CL service throughout the year and the other four rotations occur for 10h/week, 2 rotations at a time for 6 months.   Didactics and structure of training vary by rotation and match up with the demands of the service.  For example, students participate in Sleep Medicine didactics throughout Year One in order to qualify for sleep certification.   Students also participate in a monthly professional development series and a monthly therapy skills/case conference.  Students also undergo American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) basic training during Year One.

Year Two

Year Two of the Northwestern Behavioral Medicine practicum focuses on depth of experience, increasing independence and rounding out skills learned in Year One.  Students are expected to choose 2-3 rotations in which they would like to gain more experience.  These may include any of the previous rotations, including specializing within a service (e.g. CL-intensive care, neurological unit, liver transplant) or additional rotation opportunities in Psychosocial Oncology, Primary Care, Reproductive Endocrinology & Fertility or Cardiac Surgery.  In Year Two, students are expected to operate more independently as part of a multidisciplinary team, carry a larger outpatient case load and assume the role of a “junior psychologist.”  The hours requirement (20-24h/week distributed across services) are the same as in Year One.  Didactics in professional development and monthly case conference are still required.

Laurie Keefer

Laurie A Keefer Levine, PhD
Director, Behavioral Medicine Practicum