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Making and Maintaining a Neurosurgeon

By Career, MentoringNo Comments

“You need to see a neurosurgeon.” Those words would likely make any person pause. Unlike the quip, it is brain surgery. Neurosurgery is a critical medical specialty — treating everything from tumors to strokes, Parkinson’s to cerebral palsy, aneurysms to spine fractures. The average neurosurgeon has spent at least 15 years in school and training after graduating high school — four years in college, four years in medical school and seven years in a neurosurgical residency. And that is the bare minimum, not including extra years of schooling to get a second degree — such as a master’s or doctorate — and subspecialty fellowship training after residency.

So, what exactly is the process of becoming a neurosurgeon? How do we “make” a neurosurgeon? Once a neurosurgeon is done with training, how do we ensure they continue practicing lifelong learning to stay at the top of their field? Our field is committed to ensuring that patients who need neurosurgical treatment are cared for by competent, empathetic and qualified neurosurgeons, implementing initiatives throughout medical education to ensure these goals are achieved.

Through this series, we will discuss how we “make and maintain” a neurosurgeon. How do we recruit a qualified and diverse workforce? How do we break down barriers for residency applicants to ensure that students match into programs where they will succeed? How do we adapt our training programs to changes in science and technology and adapt to ever-changing regulations? How do we learn from mistakes and teach future generations always to ask how we can be better? What are we doing to verify the quality of subspecialty fellowships for those who want additional training in a neurosurgical subspecialty? Once a neurosurgeon finishes training, how do we assess them? Our first several blogs in this series will highlight the work across the country in these many avenues.

Neurosurgery is dedicated to the practice of lifelong learning. So even when the formal education is completed, we continue to grow in our practices and careers. The second half of this series will follow neurosurgeons who can share their experiences. This includes self-reflection and assessment and a focus on continuous lifelong learning, considerations of adding new procedures with innovations in the field, moving beyond neurosurgery into other roles in medicine and a continuous reflection on our profession. Hence, we continue to evolve and evaluate the needs within our specialty and recruitment and maintenance of diversity in neurosurgery.

Just as science evolves, so must our field to ensure that we continue to provide the best neurosurgical care to our patients, founded on a solid educational background and with a mindset for continuous improvement.

Editor’s Note: We hope you will share what you learn from our posts in the Making and Maintaining a Neurosurgeon series. We invite you to join the conversation on Twitter by following @Neurosurgery and using the hashtag #Neurosurgery.

Krystal L. Tomei, MD, MPH, FAANS, FACS, FAAP
Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital
Cleveland, Ohio

Cross-Post: A Night in the Life of a Busy Neurosurgical Resident

By Career, Cross PostNo Comments

From time to time on Neurosurgery Blog, you will see us cross-posting or linking to items from other places that we believe will interest our readers. Today’s post originally appeared on Medicine @ Brown Magazine. Abdul-Kareem Ahmed, MD, provides a poignant depiction of one night as a neurosurgical resident at the University of Maryland. Every patient’s worst moment is Dr. Ahmed’s every day. Read More

Brain Tumor Nonprofit StacheStrong Donates $110,000 for the Launch of the SNS Neurosurgeon-Scientist Training Program

By Brain Tumor, Career, TumorNo Comments

The Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) has established a Neurosurgeon-Scientist Training Program (NSTP) to increase the pool of neurosurgery residents conducting research and to enhance their success rate in becoming independent neurosurgeon-scientists. The NSTP will serve as a formal mentored research program for those neurosurgery residents who are beginning a protected research year or have already completed their protected research year. Read More

Cross-Post: It’s Never Too Late to Pivot From N.F.L. Safety to Neurosurgeon

By Career, Cross PostNo Comments

From time to time on Neurosurgery Blog, you will see us cross-posting or linking to items from other places that we believe will be of interest to our readers. Today’s post originally appeared in the New York Times on Oct. 11 as part of the “It’s Never Too Late” series. The article discusses how Myron Rolle, MD, a PGY-6 neurosurgery resident at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass., transitioned from playing in the NFL to neurosurgery. Read More

Myths and Truths: A Medical Student Perspective of Neurosurgery

By Career, Women in Neurosurgery, Work-Life BalanceNo Comments

Janine S. Hsu, MD

Diana Ghinda, MD, PhD

Neurosurgery is undeniably one of the most intriguing, challenging and rewarding specialties. It is also considered one of the most competitive specialties — as a result, many medical students self-exclude from neurosurgery based on preconceived notions of the field. Read More

The Long Game: The CNS’ Investment in the NINDS/CNS Getch K12 Scholar Award

By Career, DEI, Guest Post, HealthNo Comments

In 2012, the Neurosurgeon Research Career Development Program (NRCDP) set a goal to grow a diverse corps of neurosurgeon scientists at institutions across the United States. The Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) and the CNS Foundation became early partners in this effort by establishing the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)/CNS Getch K12 Scholar Award, named in honor of the CNS Past President Christopher C. Getch, MD, FAANS, a respected neurosurgeon, friend and leader, who passed away unexpectedly soon after his presidency. Read More

Faces of Neurosurgery: An Interview with Volker K. H. Sonntag, MD, FAANS (L)

By Career, Faces of NeurosurgeryNo Comments

In Episode 4 of Neurosurgery Blog’s Faces of Neurosurgery interview series, we spoke with Volker K. H. Sonntag, MD, FAANS (L) about his proudest achievements, his favorite surgery to perform and one surgical instrument he couldn’t live without. Dr. Sonntag is an emeritus professor of neurosurgery at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Ariz. Read More

Faces of Neurosurgery: An Interview with Kim J. Burchiel, MD, FAANS, FACS

By Career, Faces of NeurosurgeryNo Comments

In Episode 3 of Neurosurgery Blog’s Faces of Neurosurgery interview series, we spoke with Kim J. Burchiel, MD, FAANS, FACS, about his passions, his early mentors and what has driven him throughout his career. Dr. Burchiel is currently John Raaf Professor and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Read More

Faces of Neurosurgery: An Interview with R. Michael Scott, MD, FAANS (L)

By Career, Faces of NeurosurgeryNo Comments

In Episode 2 of Neurosurgery Blog’s Faces of Neurosurgery interview series, we spoke with R. Michael Scott, MD, FAANS (L), about his early mentors, proudest achievements, and musical hobbies. Dr. Scott is currently Neurosurgeon-in-Chief-emeritus at Boston Children’s Hospital and Christopher K. Fellows Family Chair in Pediatric Neurosurgery. Read More

Motherhood and Neurosurgery: How to Make it Work

By Career, Women in NeurosurgeryNo Comments

The challenge of being a mother and a neurosurgeon is a topic that is rarely discussed, even in today’s society. It often feels like a taboo subject for women neurosurgeons and trainees, as if motherhood would somehow make one seem like a lesser neurosurgeon. With the extensive time dedicated to neurosurgical education, training and lifelong learning, it can be challenging to determine how motherhood fits into this life. Read More