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Neurosurgery Residency Program Curriculum


Neurosurgery Residency Curriculum - Year One

The focus of the first year of the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) Neurosurgery Residency Program is the acquisition of knowledge and skills fundamental to becoming a neurosurgeon. The NS-1 year consists of 5 rotations in Neuroradiology/Neuropathology, Critical Care, Neurology, Neurosurgery and Trauma. The NS1 resident assists the NS-2 resident and will be given graded, progressive responsible for seeing patients admitted to the clinical service while under supervision in accordance with the ACGME requirements. This experience in conjunction with the Intern Boot Camp Course (attendance is mandatory) is intended to expose the NS-1 trainees to the fundamentals of neurosurgery and systems-based practice. The NS-1 resident is allowed to participate based on their skill level in basic neurosurgical procedures under appropriate supervision of senior residents and/or attendings as assigned by the chief resident.

Two months of the NS-1 year are spent rotating on the neurology residency service; exposing the NS-1 to the fundamentals of neurology, including evaluation, diagnosis and creating treatment plans for neurological patients. Six-weeks are spent learning to evaluate, diagnose and care for trauma patients. An additional six-week rotation to the surgical critical care unit exposes residents to the management of post operative neurosurgical patients. Four weeks are utilized for a joint neuroradiology and neuropathology rotation; residents will spend a half-day with each department. In addition, the NS-1 residents attend department conferences.

Neurosurgery Residency Curriculum - Year Two

The 2nd year of the BNI Neurosurgery Residency Program is a busy clinical year during which the resident works under the close supervision of the chief residents. The NS-2 makes ICU rounds each morning with the chief residents; and is assigned a single service covering three to five attending physicians’ floor patients along with a nurse practitioner. While on junior call, and under the direct supervision of an in-house senior resident, the NS-2 is responsible for all emergency room, trauma-bay and inpatient neurosurgical consultations; for coordinating patient transfers with outside physicians, and managing all critical issues involving neurosurgical inpatients.

The NS-2 is assigned to operative cases each morning by the chief residents and, like all residents, must attend and participate in daily teaching rounds with Drs. Theodore or Spetzler; bi-monthly Journal Club; monthly patient presentations at Morbidity and Mortality Conferences; and present at the weekly Neurosurgical Teaching Rounds.

Neurosurgery Residency Curriculum - Year Three

The NS-3 resident experience includes three-month clinical rotations on the pediatric, cerebrovascular, general and endovascular neurosurgery services. The NS-3 is assigned daily operative cases by the chief residents, including spinal decompression and fusions, brain tumors and trauma. The NS-3 also directly supervises the NS-2 and the medical students rotating onto the service while taking in-house call, and is responsible for attending all conferences and teaching rounds as previously described.

The NS-3 pediatric resident is responsible for the care and management of all pediatric inpatients. During this rotation, which is takes place at Phoenix Children's Hospital, the NS-3 performs all pediatric surgeries; attends 1-2 pediatric neurosurgery clinics each month; and presents at monthly pediatric neurosciences grand rounds. The rotation is primarily under the supervision of Dr. David Adelson, Section Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, residents will also work with all attending caring for children.

The cerebrovascular rotation is an opportunity for the NS-3 to work closely with Dr. Robert Spetzler, Department Chairman and Director of the BNI. The resident attends clinic, makes rounds and runs teaching conference with Dr. Spetzler, and, under the chief residents’ supervision and is primarily responsible for his patients. This is universally considered a very busy and extremely rewarding rotation.

During the endovascular rotation, the NS-3, along with 2 BNI endovascular fellows, is responsible for all inpatient rounding, operative cases, and office clinic of endovascular patients. As the BNI now has two dedicated endovascular neurosurgeons – Drs. Cameron McDougal and Felipe Albuquerque – this is a rich and robust experience with exposure to a variety of head and spinal column vascular pathology including aneurysms, strokes, AVM’s, AV fistulae, vaso-occlusive disease and tumors.

Neurosurgery Residency Curriculum - Year Four

Eight months of the 4th year of the BNI Neurosurgery Residency Program is spent on the clinical neurosurgery service. The chief residents assign cases of increasing complexity, including spinal fusions, brain tumors and neuroendoscopy. In addition, the NS-4 is responsible for senior call and attending all conferences and teaching rounds as previously described.

During the resident's first four months of independent research, the NS-4 is expected to familiarize himself/herself with all projects currently in progress in the neurosurgical laboratory. Active participation in at least two ongoing laboratory protocols is expected while he/she plans, designs and writes a research protocol with a plan for funding and presentation to the appropriate institutional review board. These activities come under the direct supervision of the Principle Investigator, Director of the Neurosurgical Research Laboratory, of ongoing projects and potential co-investigators for the resident's own research project.

Neurosurgery Residency Curriculum - Year Five

The fifth-year resident is assigned to six months on the clinical neurosurgery service and to six months research/electives unless the required endovascular rotation has not been completed. The surgical cases assigned to the NS-5 include complex spinal fusions and tumors; skull-base tumors; epilepsy surgery and vascular cases. The NS-5 participates in all conferences and teaching rounds as previously described, and takes 1-2 in-house senior calls each month.

While the residency program does not mandate a minimum number of publications in peer review journals, evidence of scholarly activity is evaluated at the resident's bi-annual evaluation session. Further opportunities for collaborative, basic science research, as well as co-investigator opportunities for clinical research abound.

Neurosurgery Residency Curriculum - Year Six

The sixth-year Barrow Neurosurgical resident is expected to further enhance and polish surgical skills but primarily is dedicated to develop and further implement research projects. While participating in all clinical and research conferences, the resident attends the Neuroscience Seminar held by the Division of Neurobiology. Maturation in clinical decision skills and scholarly activities are reviewed with a focus toward preparation for the Chief Resident Year. To this end, the entire year is left open for the NS-6 to structure, either at the BNI or away, and there are no operative or call responsibilities assigned.

Neurosurgery Residency Curriculum - Year Seven

During these 12 months, the resident serves as the chief of the clinical service for neurological surgery. As an essential part of the educational program, the chief has full responsibility for patient management and supervision of house staff officers and medical students/rotators on the service. The chief residents round each weekday morning with the NS-1&2’s and share at-home call, which includes rounding with the on-call residents on the weekend mornings. The operative experience of a BNI chief resident is unparalleled, and the year is the extremely rewarding culmination of 7 years of Barrow Neurosurgery Residency Program training.