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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease
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Glen & Wendy Miller Social Work Fellowship in Neurocognitive Disorders

The Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease is offering a one-year postgraduate social work fellowship dedicated to the education and training of social work professionals who are interested in conducting research and developing their clinical skills when working with people who have neurocognitive disorders and their families. There will be an option to renew the fellowship for an additional year.

We are seeking an exceptional social worker who demonstrates a pronounced interest in working with people with neurocognitive disorders and their families and who is able to work in a fast-paced environment. The goal of this fellowship is to produce social workers who will become leaders in this field. 

The fellowship is open to social workers with master’s or doctoral degrees. The fellow will work closely with members of the social work team within the Mesulam Center. We will provide the fellow with ongoing clinical supervision by licensed clinical social workers with extensive expertise working with people living with dementia and their families.

Learn more below.

 Clinical Experience

The training site is the Mesulam Center and its clinical arm, the Neurobehavior and Memory Clinic at Northwestern Medical Group. 

The fellow will participate in the interdisciplinary healthcare team, which consists of neurologists, neuropsychologists, neuropsychiatrists and clinical social workers. The fellow will formulate psychosocial assessments and treatments plans for individuals diagnosed with a range of dementias, including Alzheimer’s, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia and primary progressive aphasia, as well working with their families.

The fellow will have the opportunity to speak with community groups in order to educate health professionals and the general community regarding psychosocial issues related to cognitive loss. The fellow will help develop The Buddy Program, pairing first-year medical students with people living with dementia in the community. The fellow will also participate in other quality of life therapeutic interventions. The fellow will be exposed to working with persons with dementia and their families underrepresented in specialty clinics and research studies. Utilizing the adult learning model, this aspect of the fellowship is tailored to meet the needs and interests of the fellow.

 Academic Component

The fellow has ample opportunities within Northwestern for exposure to formal learning. The clinic hosts weekly social work rounds in addition to weekly multidisciplinary rounds. There may be other offerings that are part of Northwestern Medicine’s continuing education program that are of interest to the fellow. The fellow will periodically review the schedule with the fellowship director to make sure that there is a good balance between clinical and academic components.

 The Scholarly Paper and Alzheimer Day Poster Presentation

This component of the fellowship is a polished paper representing a blend of the academic and the clinical components of the program, integrating the fields of social work, dementia disorders and healthcare. At the mid-point of the year, the fellow and program director discuss options for the focus of the paper. Periodic meetings keep the fellow on track with schedule deadlines for the paper, which include the literature search, the paper outline and paper drafts. Ideally, the theme for the paper develops from an experience the fellow has had in the program, such as a clinical interaction that sparked an area of interest for further inquiry. The paper will also be presented as a poster at the annual Alzheimer Day in May. 

The final paper must be submitted to the program coordinator early in June to complete the fellowship. In June, the fellow gives a brief overview of the paper to the Mesulam Center's multidisciplinary team. We expect the fellow to return to Northwestern the following fall to present the paper in our Alzheimer’s Disease Seminar Series.

The primary objective of the postgraduate fellowship is to provide one to two years of intensive specialized training for exceptional social workers who wish to gain knowledge and skill in the field of neurocognitive disorders. At the completion of both the first and second years of training, the fellow’s progress toward this objective will be evaluated through his or her ability to:

  • Demonstrate expertise in the clinical evaluation of people living with dementia and their families.  This goal is evaluated through weekly clinical supervision, review of documentation for quality, accuracy and consistency and quality of case presentation at multidisciplinary and social work team meetings. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to perform community education and training on working with people living with neurocognitive disorders and their families. This goal is evaluated by participant evaluation forms and clinical supervisor feedback. 
  • Demonstrate the synthesis of their academic and clinical work through the writing of a scholarly paper and the presentation of their work in the form of a scientific poster at the annual Alzheimer Dayy. 

 Application Process

Qualified candidates submit the following:

  • Personal essay (two pages or less) describing the development of your interest in academic and clinical work with people with neurocognitive disorders and their families.
  • Two letters of recommendation from a faculty member and/or supervisor with direct knowledge of your academic background and clinical skills.
  • Your current curriculum vitae or resume.  

Application materials should be sent to fellowship director Darby Morhardt, PhD, LCSW.

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