Five faculty panelists discuss what you should look for when selecting the best neurosurgery training program for YOU.
Ideal Caseload Threshold and OR Independence
All the programs that you're having an exposure to today will give you excellent technical
neurosurgical training and will absolutely provide you the breadth of knowledge you need to provide the best care for your patients. In evaluating your own training experience
it's helpful to look at the breadth and depth of neurosurgery, particularly if you’ve begun to develop a specific subspecialty interest.
The resident review committee at the ACGME give a lot of thought and deliberate attention to the accreditation of programs and so in evaluating that overall experience, instead of looking for an absolute number, look at the cases that are completed by the graduating chief residents and their technical comfort level in the operating room. Ultimately, look at the positions that they're able to achieve, because if you have a program that's accredited and in good standing there's no question you're going to have an adequate substrate to become the surgeon you want to be.
What are some characteristics that applicants should look for particularly on interview day?
This is going to be a formative chapter in your education and in your professional lives, so when you're evaluating a residency program there are three distinct categories of criteria that you should analyze.
The first is the fund of knowledge, technical education, and exposure to the broad range of subspecialties. It is important to make sure that the institution has the capital facilities and infrastructure to support your exposure to bleeding edge technologies and neurosurgery cases.
The second is the culture of the faculty, in terms of the way residents and medical students are treated. It is not only how they interface professionally but also when they spend time together personally.
Finally, if you look at how neurosurgery was practiced 30 years ago compared to today, it's a complete change that required substantial attention to detail and a commitment to the craft from a small group of people. So as residents, enjoy the serious amount of time you’ll dedicate to advancing the field and a particular area of neurosurgery in which you have interest.
It is very important to take diversity, in terms of race and gender, into account when choosing a program, but what is additionally important is diversity of teaching styles. If a program has faculty that were all trained in the same program, the disadvantage is that everyone does things the same way.
If you look at programs that have recruited people from a variety of training backgrounds you get a flavor of doing the same things in different ways and get the opportunity to explore what works best for you. It is best to mix and match between your attendings on little tricks that make up the art of neurosurgery. Diversity in faculty allows for this diversity in treatment, decision making, perspective, and teaching styles.
COVID-19 and Finding Your Best Fit
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to physically interact with people involved with the programs you will be applying to, it may have a silver lining. It can limit the financial burden of traveling to different institutions, allowing you to expand the list of programs to which you apply. There are still numerous ways that institutions can show you what they have to offer in a virtual format.
In addition, there still may be a possibility of visiting institutions, likely in smaller groups, allowing you to experience programs in a more intimate setting. Finally, some institutions have offered to set up virtual meet and greets with residents to answer any questions applicants may have.
"Choose Programs" - AAMC
4 Things to Consider When Researching Medical Residency Programs:
How do I Select The Best Residency Program For My Specialty?
Dr. Chirag Patil - Neurosurgery Program Director at Cedars Sinai
Dr. Alexander Khalessi - Chairman of Neurosurgery at UCSD
Dr. Marvin Bergsneider - Neurosurgery Program Director at UCLA
Dr. Susan Durham - Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery at USC and Chief of Neurosurgery at CHLA
Dr. Kiarash Shahlai - Neurosurgery Program Director at UC Davis
Bachelor Candidate, Cornell University
Editor, Brain and Spine Report
Bachelor of Science, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Candidate, Campbell University
Manager, Brain and Spine Report