About the Specialty
Neurology is the branch of medicine concerned with disorders of the nervous system. Neurologists see people of all ages with diseases of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and muscle. Neurology is a very cognitive, hands-on specialty and attracts people who are curious, observant, detail-oriented, and who think outside the box. This is a rapidly evolving and exciting field – one of the last frontiers of medicine!
Answers to Common Questions
- Attributes of a Competitive Student
What factors typically make a student competitive for this specialty?
Residency in neurology is not overall competitive, but certain programs (including UT Southwestern) ARE competitive. Factors that increase competitiveness: Good step scores (greater than 230) and class rank (top half). Excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Scholarly activity in neurology or related field is a plus.
How important is research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?
Categorical: It is viewed favorably, but it is not at all a requirement. It is OK if the research is in another specialty. Research track: Essential and should be in or related to neurology.
How can students identify opportunities for shadowing?
Contact the Student Interest Group student leaders for information on shadowing.
SIGN organizes monthly neurology clinic shadowing opportunities. There are several department-sponsored conferences throughout the year – Neurotherapeutics update in the Fall, Carrell-Krusen Neuromuscular symposium in February, Epilepsy symposium in Spring, Neurology Resident Research days in Spring. Student registration is free. There are also weekly Neurology Grand Rounds on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. in D1.602 from September through end of May. Contact Laura Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Pepper Wedgewood, email@example.com, for specific information.
What electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?
Neurology sub-internship; Neurocritical care; Neuro-oncology; Ambulatory Neurology.
Based on your experience, what tips do you have for students to shine on your electives?
Be curious, ask questions, and engage with the patient and their families. Practice the neuro exam whenever you can. Look things up, bring articles that are relevant to a specific patient’s care. Speak up, be an integral member of the team, show everyone how much you enjoy being there and learning about neurology.
- Away Rotations
Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?
If you are highly interested in a specific program, particularly if it is a competitive program, then yes. Otherwise, away rotations are not necessary.
If away rotations are necessary, when should they apply and when should they be completed?
If interested in an away rotation, students should apply in early Spring of their MS3 year.
- Interview Timing
Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?
November-December. Most programs begin interviewing mid-October and finish in mid- or late January.
- Letters of Recommendation
How many letters of recommendation are needed to apply to your specialty?
Most programs require three; no more than four.
Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?
One letter should be from a neurologist that the student worked with clinically. A second is great but not required. The third can be from any clinician who can write a good LOR. If the student has done significant research, the fourth letter could be from their PI/mentor who does not need to be a clinician (can be a Ph.D).
If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?
Internal medicine, Psychiatry.
Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?
Strictly speaking, no. But if given a choice, go with the higher academic rank or the more well-known faculty member, particularly if applying to a highly competitive program or a research track.
Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?
No, it does not.
- American Academy of Neurology for Medical Students
- UT Southwestern Neurology Residency Program
- Doximity – Neurology Residency Programs