The Role of a Psychometrist at OSC

Orthopaedic & Spine Center
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by Joshua Willson, Certified Psychometrist

A Psychometrist is a professional who specializes in administering neuropsychological tests to collect quantitative (numerical) and qualitative (observational) data about a patient’s cognitive functioning and mental ability.

Quantitative data is derived from statistical analysis of the patient’s raw scores. The data are compared to results from normative groups: average people of various ages, educational levels, demographic and clinical backgrounds who have previously taken the tests to establish baselines for comparison.  As a very simplified example, consider a particular patient’s scores that may be low compared to a “normal” group, yet be average compared to a “chronic pain” group. Thus, some of that patient’s cognitive deficit may be attributable to their pain problem. By differentiating between normative comparison groups a psychologist can better diagnose a patient’s condition and the best way to treat it.  Qualitative data includes observations of a patient’s performance, behavior, presentation, and emotional states during the session.

A Certified Specialist in Psychometry (CSP) should have, at minimum, a Bachelor’s Degree in a relevant fields (such as Psychology, Cognitive Science, etc.) and 3000 full-time hours of experience under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. They should be familiar with the tests they use, the administration procedures as documented in the tests’ manuals, know what the tests purport to measure (i.e. domains), norms, limitations, and potential confidence. They should understand statistical principles relevant to administration, scoring, and reporting of scores. They should proceed to earn continuing education units in Psychology, Neuroscience, Assessment, and Ethics, as well as keep up with current versions, latest norms and updates for the tests they use. They should be able to interact with examinees, build and maintain rapport, and collect accurate, valid test data.

Regarding the writing of reports and impressions, a Psychometrist is responsible for reporting test results and behavioral observations to the supervising Licensed Psychologist. However, a Psychometrist is usually not permitted to tell an examinee the results of a test, as doing so could affect the examinee’s subsequent performance and test-validity. A Psychometrist also cannot not give any medical diagnosis or official interpretation of test results, as this is outside the scope of their role and training.

The best part of being a Psychometrist at OSC is helping people and playing a supportive role in the pain-management process.  When I am with a patient, I focus on helping them provide valid and reliable data as efficiently as possible. This means providing a comfortable testing environment and respecting the patient’s time and effort.  I feel great whenever a patient tells me the testing experience was better than they expected, which happens often.