47th Annual Meeting Satz Award Recipient
New York City, New York, USA, February 20-23, 2019
Dr. Bernstein obtained her PhD in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh in 1973, and from 1974-1975 she completed a NATO/Science Research Council fellowship in aphasia, neurolinguistics, and neuropsychology at the Aphasia Research Center in the Boston University/VA Medical Center. During that time, she learned from and was mentored by such luminaries as Edith Kaplan, Norman Geschwind, and Harold Goodglass. She became a member of INS in 1975.From 1976 onward, Dr. Bernstein has held academic appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She currently holds the rank of Associate Professor, and is also a senior attending neuropsychologist. She served as Assistant Director of the Learning Disabilities Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital from 1982-1990. She directed the Neuropsychology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and also served as Director of Training there, from 1987-2004. Under her guidance, Boston Children’s Hospital became one of the world’s foremost clinical and training sites for pediatric neuropsychology. To recognize Dr. Bernstein’s accomplishments over the years, the Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital established of a named lectureship in her honor several years ago.
Dr. Bernstein has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to training, teaching, and mentoring in clinical neuropsychology lasting over four decades. She is the originator of a systematic approach to pediatric neuropsychology, the neurodevelopmental systems model, which guides all of her clinical, research, and training activities. Indeed, one of her great strengths as a supervisor, teacher, and mentor is that she adopts a consistent, principled approach to neuropsychology that transcends specific tests or assessment methods, and that helps trainees develop a clinical lens for viewing the “whole child.” Her model is rooted in understanding development as arising from the continuous interactions between a child’s brain and her or his environment.
Supervision with Dr. Bernstein is always firmly grounded in clinical neuroscience, but she also brings a humanistic perspective that sees children as more than their test scores, brain scans, or diagnoses. Supervision with Dr. Bernstein is never easy: She compels her trainees to think conceptually, systematically, and comprehensively. But she always does so in the service of increasing her trainees’ knowledge, improving their clinical judgment, and making them better clinician-scientists. Understanding a child is never enough for Dr. Bernstein; she demands that, as clinical neuropsychologists, we use our understanding to help children adapt successfully to the daily demands of their environments.
Dr. Bernstein is noteworthy for her commitment to extending neuropsychology globally, consistent with the mission of INS. She has supervised, taught, and mentored many students and trainees from outside North America, and many of them have returned to their home countries to share what they have learned. Even more notably, Dr. Bernstein has devoted a significant portion of her professional career since 1997 to providing neuropsychological services for disadvantaged children in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2004, she began spending 50% of her time there, and developed a service-learning model that has provided many trainees with an amazing opportunity to gain international experience in the provision of neuropsychological services in a country and culture far different from their own. Three of my own students have participated in the service-learning program over the years, and they all describe it as truly life-altering. More recently, Dr. Bernstein also has set out to build local capacity for professional services in Trinidad and Tobago, and she is now looking to expand her service-learning model to other countries in the Caribbean.
Dr. Bernstein has supervised, taught, and mentored dozens if not hundreds of trainees over the years. A list of her former trainees includes the directors of many of the top clinical and training programs in pediatric neuropsychology at leading children’s hospitals across the United States. That list includes Boston Children’s Hospital, Denver Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Children’s National Health System, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, University of Virginia, Oakland Children’s Hospital, and UCSF Benoit Children’s Hospital. Her former trainees are not limited to children’s hospitals; a former trainee directs the program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Dr. Bernstein’s former trainees also have made major professional and scientific contributions. Her past trainees have been elected to key leadership roles in our leading professional organizations. For example, they have served as President of INS, Secretary of INS, President of the Society of Clinical Neuropsychology (APA Division 40), President of the American Association of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN), and President of the Association of Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Neuropsychology (APPCN). Dr. Bernstein’s trainees also have made substantial academic and scientific contributions, many rising to the rank of Full Professor with tenure at their respective institutions, with a number being honored with named or endowed Chairs. Dr. Bernstein’s trainees have served on the Editorial Boards of numerous scientific journals, two have been Associate Editors of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, and one was recently chosen as the new Editor of Neuropsychology. Dr. Bernstein’s former trainees have played a central role in promoting peer-reviewed credentialing among pediatric neuropsychologists. One of Dr. Bernstein’s former trainees—along with one of her former trainee’s trainees—helped form the “Be Ready for ABPP in Neuropsychology (BRAIN)” study support network to assist early career neuropsychologists in tackling the AACN/ABCN board certification process. They also published the book, Board Certification in Clinical Neuropsychology, which is widely regarded as the bible for preparing for board certification in North America.
Dr. Bernstein epitomizes an individual whose mentoring and teaching activities “have made a profound impact on careers of students in the field of neuropsychology,” the key criterion for the Paul Satz/INS Career Mentoring Award. When we also consider the trainees of her trainees—and their trainees—Dr. Bernstein’s reach becomes truly worldwide. She is the professional grandmother—and great-grandmother—of many leading pediatric neuropsychologists, all of whom consider themselves fortunate to have fallen into her sphere of influence.