Residency Program Overview

The Neurological Surgery residency program at UT Southwestern Medical School graduated its first resident in 1965. Since that time, of the more than 65 who have graduated, three have gone on to become department chairs, and about 20 percent of graduates have entered a career in academic medicine.

Our program is seven years in length including one introductory year consisting of general surgery, neurosurgery, and neurocritical care. Out of nearly 200 applications received each year, we interview about 30 candidates, and two-to-three residents are selected to enter the training program.

The Early Years: Mastering Skills

The first two years of neurosurgery training (PGY-2 and PGY-3) are devoted to mastering patient and critical care skills. Basic operative approaches, patient selection, and surgical skills are also emphasized. Rotations for the PGY-2 and PGY-3 years are primarily at Parkland Memorial Hospital and Zale Lipshy University Hospital. The third year also includes time for the micro-dissection laboratory with participation as an instructor in our cerebral aneurysm course at the annual Congress of Neurological Surgeons meeting. Development of a basic science research project also takes place.

For those residents who are considering a career in academic neurosurgery or in a subspecialty practice setting, the PGY-4 year should be devoted to implementing laboratory or clinical research plans developed in the third year. For those planning to become general neurosurgeons this year may be spent on various clinical rotations including the spine service, the tumor service, and at Children’s Medical Center. When sufficient competence is demonstrated, PGY-4 and PGY-5 residents rotate at the Dallas VA Medical Center where higher levels of autonomy and decision-making are developed.

The Final Two Years: Teaching and Leadership

The final two years (PGY-6 and PGY-7) are spent in Chief Resident rotations at Parkland Memorial Hospital, University Hospital, and on senior resident rotations or mini-fellowships in various subspecialty areas. To a degree, these years are tailored to the individual resident's educational needs to fulfill both board requirements and ultimate career goals. Trauma and critical care, complex spine, skull-base surgery, and functional neurosurgery are among the options for mini-fellowship experiences. Residents with an interest in cerebrovascular surgery may elect for an intensive experience in micro-neurosurgery or may have access to an introductory experience in endovascular surgery.

During these final two years, some time is spent as the Chief Resident at Parkland and on the cerebrovascular service at Zale Lipshy University Hospital-Zale Lipshy. These rotations allow development of teaching and leadership skills and include training on how to organize an academic or private neurosurgery practice. Basic surgical skills are expected to be in place prior to these rotations so that the focus can be on surgical nuances. Throughout training, residents will be aided by neurosurgical clinicians at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Zale Lipshy University Hospital, Children’s Medical Center, and Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center.