Residency for Neurosurgery | Requirements | Training

Residency for Neurosurgery – Overview

Neurosurgery is an essential part of medical science. Accomplished neurosurgeons can give numerous reasons why they chose this particular field of medicine.

They could have been inspired by a patient’s story or motivated after a successful and impactful research project.

They could have also been inspired by a love for the operation theatre or motivated by a passionate mentor during their days as a resident neurosurgeon.

What is Choosing a Residency for Neurosurgery So Critical

Residency for neurosurgery is essential for those who wish to become certified and experienced neurosurgeons.

Here are some of the most compelling reasons to choose residency for neurosurgery to become a neurosurgeon.

1 – Build strong doctor-patient relationships

There is a special bond between a neurosurgeon and a patient. Neurosurgeons use surgical treatments to treat afflictions of the brain and spinal cord, two of the most unique and complex organs in the human body.

The brain is responsible for our personalities’ movements, thoughts, speech, and make-up.

Hence, the treatment of these organs is considered to be especially beneficial. This creates an unprecedented level of trust between a patient and their neurosurgeon.

2 – Helping the extremely sick

Neurological afflictions include some of the most painful and debilitating symptoms. Hence, patients who undergo neurological treatment need intense care to get well.

Neurosurgeons who help patients recover from their afflictions are considered no less than heroes by the patients they treat.

3 – Always on call

Neurosurgeons and neurosurgery residents have demanding schedules. They are singularly focused on taking care of their patients and attempting to achieve the best possible outcome of their treatment.

Neurosurgeons have a mentality that makes them go above and beyond their call of duty.

Education, Certifications, and Training

Here’s a simple break-up of the entire course you need to adopt when you want to make a career as a neurosurgeon in the US.

Step 1 – Medical School

You must enroll in a 4-year medical school program, choosing an accredited DO or MD program.

Usually, medical students who are interested in becoming neurosurgeons participate in significant research projects during their medical school. Students interested in research may pursue dual-degree programs, such as an MD/PhD.

Most students complete sub-internships in neurosurgery at their medical schools at the end of the first clinical year or during the second clinical year.

This is an essential step in applying for a residency in neurosurgery under the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).

Step 2 – Residency for Neurosurgery

The second step involves enrolling in a residency training program, which is typically seven years long and accredited by the ACGME.

In this program, around 1 to 4 students are accepted every year. Although the specifics may vary, the general outline of the residency for neurosurgery is as follows:

Post-Graduate Year 1 – This internship period involves several rotations in neurology, neurosurgery, neurosciences, neuropathy, ICU or other surgical sub-specialty.

Post-Graduate Year 2 to 3—The Junior Residency period is also called this period. During this period, you are expected to take in-house calls, admit new patients, rotate across the neurological department, and learn basic operating theater procedures.

Post-Graduate Year 4 to 6 – In these years of residency for neurosurgery, you will be expected to continue rotations through neurosurgical services. You will be required to upgrade your surgical skills with increasingly complex surgeries. These years may include dedicated time for research, but clinical fellowships typically occur after the completion of residency.

Post-Graduate Year 7—Also called the Chief Residency year, you will be in charge of educating junior residents and handling neurological services. You will be required to operate almost daily on more complicated cases, which helps you hone the surgical skills required by your chosen subspecialty.

Step 3 – Fellowship

The next year or two after completing residency for neurosurgery is spent on fellowship. Fellowships provide additional specialization, such as in pediatric neurosurgery, and are highly recommended but not mandatory for all neurosurgical subspecialties.

This is optional. However, many students choose this to develop the necessary skills to become cerebrovascular surgeons, endovascular specialists, etc.

Several residency programs offer “enfolded” fellowships. This involves undergoing around 1 to 2 years of protected elective time for the subspecialty of the student’s choice.

Enfolded fellowships are integrated into the residency training, potentially reducing the need for additional fellowship training after residency, depending on the subspecialty.

Step 4 – Career

As a clinical neurosurgeon, you have the choice between two types of careers: academic or private practice. University-affiliated medical centers employ the majority of academic neurosurgeons.

They are responsible for evaluating clinic patients, performing surgical operations, and teaching and training resident neurosurgeons, fellows, and other medical students.

In addition, academics are required to participate in research. You can become a principal investigator in a lab or choose to become a collaborator.

On the other hand, private-practice neurosurgeons usually work in small—to mid-sized group practices. They also have operating privileges from various hospitals.

What are the Advantages of Becoming a Neurosurgeon

As a career choice, neurosurgery has numerous benefits and advantages, such as:

  • Opportunity to alleviate the suffering of patients afflicted with debilitating, often fatal neurological diseases.
  • Performing technically challenging surgical operations on the most complex anatomy in the human body.
  • Working with passionate and motivated professional colleagues.
  • Having an endless opportunity for research.


A residency in neurosurgery is a crucial step to becoming a successful and certified neurosurgeon in the US.

For maximum benefits, choose a residency in an accredited and recognized medical setting. If you have any doubts, feel free to consult with your mentor and instructors at any time.

See Also

Residency for Family Medicine

Residency for Dermatology

Residency for Anesthesiologist

Residency for Pediatrics

Current Version
April 2, 2024
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.
November 5, 2021
Written By
Shubham Grover

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