Updated: January 31, 2011

Career Guidance Handbook
Neurosurgery

Match Process: Categorical

Program Director:  Mark E. Linskey, M.D., UC Irvine Medical Center, Department of Neurological Surgery, 101 The City Drive South, Building 56, Suite 400, Orange, CA  92706 (714) 456-7495 mlinskey@uci.edu

Career Specialty Advisor: Same as Above

Residency Coordinator: Pauline B. David, Residency Coordinator, UC Irvine Medical Center, Department of Neurological Surgery,  101 The City Drive South, Building 56, Suite 400, Orange, CA  92706 (714) 456-7495 pbdavid@uci.edu

List the fourth year elective courses you feel are most helpful to a student considering your specialty.

  1. Neurosurgery
  2. Neurology
  3. Neuroradiology
  4. Surgical or Medical Intensive Care
  5. Head and Neck (ENT) Surgery

What are the most important characteristics a student should evaluate in a residency program in your discipline?

  1. Status of the Program Director and faculty as excellent role models
  2. Success of graduates of this training program; their opinion of the program at 4-5 years after the graduates have left the program; how many graduates are Board certified.
  3. Size of the program - i.e., number of residents in training at any time; large residencies are more impersonal than smaller residencies involving only four or five Neurosurery residents as an example.
  4. Academic reputation of the faculty, and the degree of emphasis on research and basic science which are mandatory for good training.
  5. Number of beds on the service and quality of the hospital/operating room facilities.
  6. The record of the particular program relative to RRC/ACGME approval, probation, or disapproval in the history of the program at that particular institution.

What are the pros of a career in your specialty?

  1. Always a challenging and progressive discipline which requires good human understanding via effective communication skills.
  2. Intellectual curiosity and a desire to progress in this discipline as developments evidenced by research interests and productivity.

What are the cons of a career in your specialty?

  1. Very long hours
  2. High level of stress is usual
  3. time with the family is limited
  4. Long training period, 7 year program including one year in research
  5. Late family development
  6. Medical liability is significant.

How long is the training in your specialty and, in general, how vigorous? Training is an extremely vigorous experience, both physically and intellectually.  Concentration ability over several hours is essential. Communication ability at the professional level is mandatory in view of the complex nature of neurosurgery ,requiring cooperation with closely allied discipline such as neurology, radiology, anesthesiology, orthopedics, plastic surgery, and hospital administrators.

What is the lifestyle experience in your specialty? Ten to twelve hours per day in the office/hospital activities.

How competitive are training programs in your specialty?  What kind of record would a student realistically need to match? Highly competitive; most applicants are near the top of the class academically.  However, other factors are considered to be as important.  These include personal characteristics of sound judgment, integrity, and capacity for hard work.  Some research experience is also advantageous.

Which disciplines should letters of recommendations come from? Neurosurgery

Should students approach faculty in the first and second year of medical school to do research and for letters of recommendation? Yes, definitely

Will research in this field improve changes for obtaining residency? Yes

If research is beneficial, what is the minimum length of time to obtain a meaningful experience? 1 year

Is it beneficial in obtaining residency in this field to complete externships? Yes

Is there a benefit to completing more than one externship in this field? Deeper knowledge of practice

Is it important for the USMLE Step 2 scores to be available for review? Helpful & advantageous, but not necessary to be considered.