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NNCI Ambassadors Fellowship Program

Modern neuroscience is revolutionizing our understanding of psychiatric illness. Yet despite dramatic progress in research, the field has been slow to integrate neuroscience into medical school and residency curricula, into day-to-day clinical practice, and into how we engage more broadly with patients, families, and the general public. While there are many individuals with the talent and interest to excel in this space, there are relatively few training opportunities to cultivate these crucial skills.

The National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative (NNCI) was founded in 2013 with the goal of creating a set of open educational resources that would help integrate a neuroscience perspective into modern psychiatry. Since then, we have created 150+ sessions that are in use at more than 200 training programs in the US and around the world.

From the outset, the NNCI was designed to be a collaborative initiative, leveraging the strengths of a broad team. We are proud that our materials reflect the work of more than 120 authors from 50+ institutions. Recognizing that this work is difficult, we have increasingly focused on developing training opportunities that can help interested individuals enhance their skills as neuroscience educators.

Over the past year, we piloted a new fellowship program that is designed to help participants serve as Ambassadors of Psychiatry and Neuroscience who can thoughtfully communicate key content to a broad audience. The curriculum includes separate courses on: Adult Learning (foundational principles; unique applications in medical education and, specifically, within psychiatry; how to adapt materials to an online space) and Effective Scientific Communication (including learning to distill complex topics down to their core concepts, to craft a narrative arc around key translational applications, to optimize the visual representation of data, and to attend to technical aspects of performance). Each participant receives individual coaching to help them develop of a new educational resource (e.g. writing a Clinical Commentary to submit to Biological Psychiatry, creating a “This ‘Stuff’ Is Really Cool” talk, or designing a novel classroom exercise). Class meets weekly for one hour throughout the year with all sessions conducted in an experiential / workshop format. Participants are expected to dedicate one hour weekly for class preparation.

The NNCI is now recruiting the next cohort of exceptional trainees and early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as ambassadors of psychiatry and neuroscience.

Participants will be selected based on their skill and enthusiasm for teaching neuroscience, their previous accomplishments, and their potential as leaders in neuroscience education. Applications are due June 30th, 2022 and should be submitted as a single (zipped) file to the Dropbox link below. The program will begin in August.

Application Process

The major component of the application is a teaching sample that demonstrates the applicant’s ability to make a complex neuroscience topic accessible for a broad audience. Submissions could include:

  1. A creative, new approach to teaching and learning. Our favorite NNCI resources are ones that bring neuroscience to life through experiential exercises. (Example 1 or Example 2) Surprise us with something awesome!
  2. An outline / sketch for a potential clinical commentary. Each piece is designed to take one core concept in neuroscience and bring it to life using a narrative approach. Warning! These pieces are deceptively difficult and time-consuming to write. Please do not try to submit a finished/polished column (invariably, this leads to wasted time/effort). If you’re planning this type of submission, please show enough work that we can get a sense of your writing skill and we can imagine what the full piece would look like. (Example 1 or Example 2)
  3. A “This ‘Stuff’ is Really Cool” video. These are brief talks that are designed to each take one core concept in neuroscience and make it clear, relevant, and accessible for a broad audience. (Example 1 or Example 2)
  4. A brief teaching video. There’s a reason that Khan Academy has become one of the leading education platforms in the world. This style of video can be incredibly powerful at deconstructing complex topics and making them accessible. Please note: your submission does not have to be a polished, final product – we have a team that can help with that. However, you need to include enough details that we can clearly visualize what the final product would be (we recommend including either a rough-cut production and/or a script that includes explicit descriptions of what the visuals would be). (Example 1)
  5. A new teaching session using one of our pre-developed modules (e.g., creating a new neuroscience in the media session with contemporary content).

The primary factor in our selection process will be the quality and creativity of the teaching sample.  Additional factors will include demonstrated interest and commitment to teaching neuroscience and previous educational experience (including innovation and leadership).

Please note: the NNCI is especially interested in content relating to the interface of neuroscience with health equity, social justice, and anti-racism in medicine. We welcome applications from individuals who are interested in pursuing this work.

In addition to the teaching sample, the application should include the following components in a single PDF file:

  1. Cover letter from the applicant briefly outlining prior relevant teaching activities, their vision for how they will use this fellowship experience, and how this relates to their career goals (800 word limit). For early career applicants, please explicitly confirm that you will be able to dedicate at least two hours per week to this experience.
  2. Curriculum vitae.
  3. For trainees, a nominating letter from the Program Director reflecting on the applicant’s relevant skills and abilities. Please also specify how the program will support this resident’s teaching of neuroscience within their host institution and facilitate their participation in the fellowship program (including by protecting at least 2 hours / week of the resident’s time).
  4. For early career applicants, a nominating letter from the Department Chair reflecting on the applicant’s relevant skills and abilities. Please also indicate how the institution will support this individual’s teaching of neuroscience and educational scholarship.

Completed applications should be uploaded to this folder as a single (zipped) file.

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