Mater introduces new certificate in neuropsychiatry

Released On: 01/04/2019

Mater has introduced a new certificate in neuropsychiatry—the first of its kind in Australia—as part of a strategic move towards a neuro-psychiatry hub bringing together clinical, teaching and research together under one umbrella.

Mater Staff Specialist Neurology Dr Daniel Schweitzer said the certificate was the first part in creating an integrated neuropsychiatry clinical and research centre.

“The program is based around three key components, clinical care, education/training and research,” Dr Schweitzer said.

“The Certificate in Neuropsychiatry will form a central part of the educational component which will help promote inter-professional education among clinicians and also lead to a new generation of psychiatrists and neurologists who are well versed in neurology and psychiatry.”

“Nearly all neurological disorders that affect the brain have the potential to disrupt social cognitive function, but for most neurological disorders the nature of these deficits remains poorly understood.

Mater Education Interprofessional Education Manager René Huysamen said the certificate is aimed at psychiatry and neurology registrars and junior specialists.

“Currently eight registrars are undertaking the program which involves teaching sessions, case conferencing meetings, journal club meetings, research meetings, supervised assessment and treatment of neuropsychiatry patients, contribution to the body of knowledge by completing and presenting a literature review, and opportunities to participate in research and potentially produce a research paper on a relevant topic,” Ms Huysamen said.

“Our aim with this program is to develop and promote inter-professional education to lead to a new generation of psychiatrists and neurologists who are well versed in neurology and psychiatry.

“Longer-term our aim is to work on developing a similar certificate aimed at nursing staff to broaden the scope.”

The program runs for six months and will have an intake of up to 10 in each program.

Mater Director of Psychiatry Dr Paul Pun said that part of the impetus for the Neuropsychiatry Certificate was the unavoidable reunification of Neurology and Psychiatry, and a global movement of young psychiatrists towards the subspecialty field of Neuropsychiatry.

“For various historical reasons the disciplines of Neurology and Psychiatry evolved into separate streams, forming quite distinct departments away from each other,” Dr Pun said.

“In many ways, this does not make good sense given that we are both dealing with the brain.

“Training directors in psychiatry internationally are observing a wave of new trainees in psychiatry who want to get into neuropsychiatry as their subspecialty area and currently there is no formal qualification as a neuropsychiatrist that these trainees can access.

“We are hoping that the Mater Certificate in Neuropsychiatry is a small step in the right direction, in providing at least some local recognition of experiences in training and research.  It has become quite a recruitment bonus for Mater, with many psychiatry trainees asking to work at Mater precisely because of the good relationship between Neurology and Psychiatry on campus, which they can tap into very readily in terms of combined meetings, journal clubs, grand rounds and research collaboration.”