Psychology: Patrick Summerell

Fascinated by how our minds work, Patrick Summerell became a clinical neurologist and now treats people with brain disorders.

Patrick S

Patrick Summerell helps patients with central nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. A clinical neuropsychologist, he works in The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Neuropsychiatry Team and at the Epworth Hospital in Richmond.

While studying at the University of Melbourne, where he completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology in 2016 and a Master of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology) in 2019, Patrick enjoyed learning from Australia’s top neuropsychologists.

He explored the brain’s complexity and nurtured his passion to enhance the lives of people with brain disorders, investigating  the neural correlates of decision-making, outcomes after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and helping to develop a new mTBI intervention .

Patrick now diagnoses brain-related disorders and treats and educates those who have a diagnosis. He also supports patients with a cancer diagnosis, behavioural changes related to Huntington’s disease, or the inability to work or drive after a stroke.

What led you to the School of Psychological Sciences (MSPS)?

Being able to come into uni every day in a gorgeous spot in the best city in the world. Also being able to learn from some of the top neuropsychologists in the country.

What motivated you at university?

It is a wonderful privilege to say that what motivated me at university was the end goal of being in the exact position that I am in today.

What part of your MSPS experience did you most enjoy?

The incredible people that I have met along the way and the care that they have for others – from fellow students to staff and even to students that I have tutored.

What drew you into this field and what do you love about it?

What’s more fascinating than the brain!? It’s one of the most complex systems in our world and plays a part in everything we experience – good and bad. I love learning more and more about the brain, but more than anything I love being able to help those that need it.

What does a typical day look like?

The beauty about neuropsychology is the variability from day to day. Some days I get referrals from the medical team to provide an opinion as to whether there is evidence of a certain brain-related disorder such as a dementia process.

Other times I might see patients that already have a diagnosis of something, and they are seeking clarity as to what thinking skills are being affected and how they can better manage their difficulties on the ward or in daily life.

Sometimes I help patients adjust to the psychological burden of a new cancer diagnosis, the behavioural changes related to Huntington’s disease, or the loss of ability to work or drive post-stroke, just to name a few.

What motivates you now?

The ability to come into work every day and better the life of someone, even in a small way.

What keeps you hopeful?

The next crop of students/young people and the care they have for health, social, and environmental issues.

What advice do you have for current or future students?

Never lose track of the end goal but in the same way allow yourself to enjoy and get the most out of the now. Join some of the great psychology students’ societies – like MUPA, GRIPS, and NSS.

Where do you see (or hope to see) yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully a future leader in our field with a great work/life balance and a wonderful family!