Residency for Neurosurgery – Overview
Neurosurgery is one of the most essential and important parts of medical science. Accomplished neurosurgeons can give you 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 Choosing a Residency for Neurosurgery is 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 the spinal cord, which are two of the most unique and complex organs in the human body.
The brain is responsible for the movements, thoughts, speech and make-up of our individual personalities.
Hence, 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 as well as neurosurgery residents are usually the first doctors in the hospital and often the last to leave too. They are singularly focused on taking care of their patient and attempting for the best possible outcome of their treatment.
Neurosurgeons have a mentality that makes them go above and beyond their call of duty.
What are the Education, Certifications and Training required for a Neurosurgeon?
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 need to enroll in 4+ years of medical school. You should choose an accredited DO or MD program.
Usually, medical students who are interested in becoming neurosurgeons participate in significant research projects during their medical school. This may also involve acquiring a Ph.D./MD degree.
At the end of the first clinical year, or during the second clinical year, most students complete sub-internships in neurosurgery at their medical schools.
This is an essential step to apply for a residency in neurosurgery under the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).
Step 2 – Residency for Neurosurgery
The second step involves enrolling in a 7-years long residency training from an ACGME-accredited residency program.
In this, the program accepts around 1 to 4 students every year. Although the specifics may vary, the general outline of the residency for neurosurgery is as follows:
- Post-Graduate Year 1 – This is the internship period and involves several rotations in neurology, neurosurgery, neurosciences, neuropathy, ICU or other surgical sub-specialty.
- Post-Graduate Year 2 to 3 – This is also called the Junior Residency period. In this, you are expected to take in-house calls, admit new patients, take rotations across the neurological department and also learn basic procedures of the operating theater.
- 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 also include 1 or 2 years spent in research or clinical fellowships.
- 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. This helps to hone the surgical skills required by your chosen sub-specialty.
Step 3 – Fellowship
The next year or two after completing residency for neurosurgery is spent on fellowship. A fellowship is essential for additional specialization in pediatric neurosurgery.
This is optional. However, many students choose this to develop the necessary skills to become cerebrovascular surgeons, endovascular specialists, etc.
There are several residency programs that offer “enfolded” fellowships. This involves undergoing around 1 to 2 years of protected elective time for the subspecialty of the student’s choice.
This is great to prevent the need for extra training after completing the residency program.
Step 4 – Career
As a clinical neurosurgeon, you will have the choice between two types of careers – academic or private practice. The majority of academic neurosurgeons are employed by university-affiliated medical centers.
They are responsible for evaluating patients in clinics, performing surgical operations, teaching and training resident neurosurgeons, fellows and other medical students.
In addition, academics require participating 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 too.
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 an extremely important step to becoming a successful and certified neurosurgeon in the US.
Make sure to choose a residency in an accredited and recognized medical setting for maximum benefits. Feel free to consult with your mentor and instructors at any time in case of doubt.