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Neurosurgery Residency Program

Please note for the 2013 Match we will have two open positions.

Program Structure

The residency training program at the University of Chicago is comprised of three general stages structured into a seven-year curriculum. The first stage, the PGY-1, PGY-2, and PGY-3 years, is comprised of a period of a junior residency status that includes sets of neurosurgery and neurosurgery-related rotations. The second stage is a two year Research/Scholarship experience that may include traditional bench-lab research work, clinical or translational research, or enhance subspecialty neurosurgical clinical skills in an infolded-fellowship. The third stage is composed of two years of senior/chief resident rotations which complete the training period in all manner of complex neurosurgical technique and prepare the resident for independent neurosurgical practice. This graded approach to training provides progressive increase in skills and responsibility until the resident is ready to become an independent fully trained neurosurgeon.

Currently the PGY-1 year is divided into six months on the neurosurgery service, three months of neurology training, which includes rotations on the neurointensive care and neuro-oncology services, and three months of training on selected surgical subspecialty services, such as orthopaedics, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, or anesthesia.

PGY-1 Goal: To acquire a basic knowledge and skills set in surgical, subspecialty, neurological, and basic neurosurgical information and be able to apply this to manage patients with common neurosurgical, intensive care, and emergency medical disorders.

The second year is dedicated to learning the fundamentals of patient care on the adult neurosurgery service. Ample opportunity is present to assist and perform operative procedures commensurate with the resident's level of expertise. The Junior resident will be split between 6 months of neurosurgery training at the UCMC and six months of training at the Northshore University Health System Evanston Campus. Time at the UCMC will be spent on the Adult Neurosurgery Service as the Junior resident providing care to the adult cranial and spine patients under the supervision of the Adult Service Chief Resident and the Spine Service Senior Resident. The junior neurosurgery resident at the Northshore University HealthSystem (NSUHS) Evanston Campus for 6 months will broaden his/her familiarity with the care of neurosurgical patients through day to day involvement with general neurosurgical inpatients at the hospital under senior resident and faculty supervision.

PGY-2 Goal: To understand and be able to apply basic neurosurgical knowledge, surgical techniques, professionalism and communications skills to the care and management of neurosurgical patients.

The third year is spent between the pediatric neurosurgical service and a variety of other required rotations. The year is comprised of a 6 month rotation as a mid-level resident on the Pediatric Neurosurgery Service at The Comer Children’s Hospital of the University of Chicago. Emphasis is on the care of pediatric neurosurgical problems in all its areas: tumor, vascular, spine, spina bifida and congenital anomalies, hydrocephalus, trauma, and pediatric epilepsy. The remainder of the year will be spent in several rotations: a 2-month combined rotation on Neuro-pathology and Neuro-radiology, 1 -2 months on the Hand/Upper Extremity Rehabilitation service to acquire familiarity with surgery of the peripheral nerves and brachial plexus, and a 1- 2 month rotation at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center Neurosurgery Service. The remainder of this 6-month block is used to complete additional electives as assigned by the Program Director, within the interests of each individual resident.

PGY-3 Goals:

1. To identify common pediatric neurosurgical illnesses and understand how to diagnose and manage these conditions.

2. To complete rotations in relevant allied fields and intercalate that knowledge into the management of neurosurgical patients

The fourth and fifth years are defined as research or scholarship experiences. The Neurosurgery section uses a broad definition of generation of knowledge to allow residents to pursue activity that could include clinical research, or advanced clinical training on an infolded fellowship. These activities will be supervised by an appropriate mentor as well as a member of the Neurosurgical faculty.

PGY-4/5 Goals:

1. To conduct basic, translational or clinical research in neurosurgery or a related field and/or to gain advanced experience in clinically-related subspecialty fields of Neurosurgery.

2. To contribute new knowledge to the field of Neurosurgery or related Neurosciences.

In the sixth year of the program, the resident assumes a senior level of responsibility on the adult neurosurgery ward, with an emphasis on advanced spinal operations. The final two years of the program are composed of rotations on each of the clinical services at UCMC as well as at NSUHS.

The final year is spent as chief resident on both the adult and pediatric services. This year provides extensive experience in the operative management of neurosurgical patients, as well as the responsibility for the day-to-day running of the clinical services. During this time, the chief resident will be exposed to increasing complexities of intracranial neurosurgical procedures. In addition to operative management the chief resident on the service will be responsible for the supervision and training of the junior residents on the service, as well as interaction with the neuro-intesive care staff and the endovascular neuro-intentional staff. On the pediatric service, the chief resident will help manage a team that will consist of a PGY-3 resident as well as several pediatric nurse practitioners and various allied pediatric subspecialists within the Children’s Hospital. The resident will learn to perform and master an ever more complicated series of pediatric neurosurgical operations.

PGY-6/7 Goals:

1. To become technically competent at completing simple neurosurgical operations, develop the knowledge base required for the conduct of such procedures, and to demonstrate more advanced professionalism, interpersonal and communicating skills and practice-based learning and systems-based practice.

2 To become competent to perform neurosurgical operations independently and to enter neurosurgical practice.

Our goal is to produce mature, responsible graduates who have the requisite surgical skills and intellectual judgment to appropriately treat all aspects of neurosurgical illness.

Currently, the program alternates between one and two residents each year. As the program is carried out by ten full-time University neurosurgeons and several clinical faculty members, there is a high staff to trainee ratio and the individualized needs of each resident are met. Staff assistance and supervision are available at all times. The attending staff and residents work as a team with mutual responsibility for all phases of patient care. Each patient is provided with equal care and attention.

Training Locations/Clinical Facilities

All aspects of the training program are carried out at the University of Chicago Medical Center located on the Hyde Park campus. This centralized location provides enormous advantages, including the availability of faculty members with particular expertise to advise and assist in the management of all patients, as well as the opportunity to utilize the facilities afforded by one of the great universities in the country. In addition, clinical, laboratory, library and conference facilities all occupy adjoining space on the same floor. The pediatric patients are seen in the newly built Comer Children's Hospital, which is attached to the medical center complex. Neurosurgical patients requiring intensive care are hospitalized in one of the adult or pediatric units located in the intensive care tower in the medical center complex.

The University of Chicago Medical Center houses a unique Neurosciences Critical Care Unit (NeuroICU), the only facility of its nature in the Chicago area. It offers a 10-bed unit with the most advanced monitoring and treatment for patients with brain injuries and neurological diseases. Our faculty sees both adult and pediatric patients at Evanston NorthShore, a teaching affiliate of The University of Chicago. Additionally residents rotate through Advocate Illinois Masonic in their third year.

Neurosurgical Research

The Surgery Brain Research Institute, an integral part of the medical center which houses the neurosurgical staff offices and Sean Mullan Library and Conference Room, also contains 6,000 square feet of space exclusively developed for neurosurgical research. In addition, there is also the University of Chicago Cancer Research Center. The Section of Neurosurgery has a research area that adjoins the clinical area and with the neurosurgical faculty offices, which occupies 24,000 square feet in the Surgery Brain Research Institute. The laboratories are well-equipped for channel studies, microfluorometry, blood flow measurement, cellular neurophysiology, molecular biology, pharmacology, microscopy, biochemistry, tissue culture, histology and animal pathology. Superb operating facilities are available in the building for animal experimentation.

There are strong ancillary services in neurology, neuropathology, neurophysiology (including electroencephalography and video monitoring) and a sleep laboratory. Three full-time neuroradiologists, trained and experienced in interventional neuroradiology, work closely with the neurosurgical service.

There are 5 nurse practitioners, trained in the management of neuroscience patients, who assist on both the pediatric and adult services to ensure non-educational activities are minimized for residents.

A neuroanatomical dissection laboratory, adjacent to the residents' offices, is available for practicing microdissection and vessel anastomosis, as well as dissection of human material. A well-equipped neurosurgical conference room adjacent to the resident's offices includes an excellent contemporary neurosurgical book collection.

Continued Education

There is an active program of neurosurgical education with mandatory resident participation. Each Wednesday morning is devoted to a series of lectures designed to expose the residents to issues related to neurosurgical patient management. These lectures are carried out by the neurosurgical faculty as well faculty from other departments within the University of Chicago. Neurosurgical grand rounds are held every Wednesday. Moreover, residents are exposed to weekly subspecialty conferences, including neuro-oncology, a pediatric surgery, vascular, neuro-endocrine, neuropathology, epilepsy and spinal conferences. There are weekly attending rounds and ample opportunity for residents and faculty to interact.


Application Information

All applications are reviewed in early fall and a select group of applicants will be invited for interviews. If you need any other information regarding our program, you may contact our Residency Coordinator Amy Johnson at 773-834-0685 or ajohnson1@surgery.bsd.uchicago.edu. We ask that you do not fax or email any application documents. All should be submitted to ERAS for proper processing. 

Please click on the following link for additional application information, how to apply.

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