The Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University is committed to inclusive excellence at all levels of education and training. Investing in outreach and pipeline programs exposes students to knowledge and opportunities otherwise unavailable. Our reach extends beyond Stanford and the surrounding community — we have reached students from all over the world who are interested in the neurosciences and are dedicated to learning. We are proud of the department’s work with outreach, including students locally, nationally and internationally. The future of neuroscience is bright. Read More
“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
Dedicated to alleviating health care disparities, the Pathway to Neurosurgery program encourages high school students from underrepresented groups and/or disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue a career in neurosurgery. On Monday, Sept. 11, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) Foundation will host the program at the 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Read More
From time to time on the Neurosurgery Blog, you will see us cross-posting or linking to items from other places that we believe will interest our readers. We wanted to bring attention to a recent publication in Neurosurgery, the official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. The article, “Stereotactic Radiosurgery for Vestibular Schwannoma in Neurofibromatosis Type 2: An International Multicenter Case Series of Response and Malignant Transformation Risk” was published as part of Neurosurgery’s High-Impact Manuscript Service (HIMS). Read More
The Medicare physician payment system is on an unsustainable path that has failed to keep up with inflation over the years, threatening patient access to care. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) are actively engaged in preventing steep Medicare payment cuts and preserving patient access to care through the Surgical Care Coalition. The coalition is in year three of its campaign to stop these cuts and implement lasting changes to the physician payment and quality improvement systems. Read More
From time to time on Neurosurgery Blog, you will see us cross-posting or linking to items from other places that may be of interest to our readers. Today’s post originally appeared on AL.com on Nov. 1, titled “Why is it hard for grandma to see her doctor?” In the op-ed, Richard Menger, MD, MPA, assistant professor of neurosurgery and political science at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Ala., discusses how steep Medicare physician payment cuts scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, are not a good prescription for a healthy physician workforce. Read More
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
From time to time on Neurosurgery Blog, you will see us highlighting items from other places when we believe they hit the mark on an issue. To this end, we want to bring attention to the new Neurosurgery Editorial Board Section, “Global Neurosurgery,” highlighted by Section Editor Gail L. Rosseau, MD, FAANS, FACS, in the October issue of Neurosurgery. Read More
Recent events of systemic discrimination have led to national introspection on the importance of tolerance and diversity. The tragic killing of George Floyd in May 2020 was a sentinel event that raised awareness of the pervasive nature of systemic discrimination and served as a significant impetus for positive change. This was a clear reminder that we still face substantial challenges to tolerance and equal treatment for all as a society. It is also a unique opportunity to reflect on our common purpose as humanity.
Neurosurgery has historically been a uniquely wide-ranging and varied specialty. Unlike other specialties that focus on a particular organ system or body region, neurosurgery is quite literally a “head-to-toe” specialty dealing with the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and the other organs intimately related to the nervous system. Neurosurgeons classically had to be experts in a wide variety of surgical procedures and disease processes. As medical knowledge and technology have advanced, neurosurgeons have evolved with medicine to become experts in particular disease processes, leading to a reorganization of neurosurgery into sub-specialty disciplines.