UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Psychiatry; Education; Education, Medical; Neuropsychiatry; Neurology; Clinical Competence; Competency-Based Education; Internship and Residency; Neuropsychological Tests




Background: Historically, psychiatrists have been less inclined than neurologists to utilize pencil and paper tasks during bedside cognitive assessments. Objective: The Draw-AClock Contest was established in 1986 at the University of Massachusetts to promote use of cognitive assessment tasks by psychiatry residents. Methods: Used in neuropsychological assessments since the 1930’s, clock tasks have been popular screening tools for executive function, praxis, visuospatial and constructive ability, often as part of dementia screening. Given its broad utility as a screening tool and the ease and speed of its administration, the Draw-A-Clock task (with hands set to 11:10 and no circle provided) was selected for use by UMass psychiatry residents, with further bedside assessment encouraged to explore any detected deficits. To encourage participation and foster clinical inquiry, residents are asked to submit clinically interesting de-identified patient clocks. For 21 years, clock contest entries have been collected each spring, with basic demographic, diagnostic, and process notes. Resident names are encoded, and entries are judged by a neuropsychiatrist (SB) and a neuropsychologist (EK). A “clock trophy” and detailed analysis of the submission is presented to the winner at the annual graduation banquet. Results: As a result of this contest, mental status examinations by trainees have become more comprehensive and an atmosphere of neuropsychiatric inquiry has been maintained. Faculty members have also incorporated this task into their mental status assessments, thus establishing a culture of cognitive inquiry and an academic tradition. Examples of winning clocks and common findings will be presented. Published abstract: Sullivan J, Benjamin S, Case Report: CADASIL with Cysteine-Sparing Notch-3 Mutation, American Neuropsychiatric Association, abstract, Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 21(2):221, 2009. DOI 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.21.2.221.


Benjamin S, Kaplan E, Lauterbach MD, Eisenstock J, Schneider D, Ali ND, Sullivan JF, Butala AA, The Draw-A-Clock Contest: A Strategy for Improving Cognitive Status Assessment by Trainees, American Neuropsychiatric Association (poster), American Neuropsychiatric Association, February 2009.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American Neuropsychiatric Association, 2009

Included in

Psychiatry Commons