NINDS recently partnered with the University of Virginia to establish a neurosurgical residency program. The 7-year program, which will enroll the first resident in July of this year, is intended to serve as a model for training neurosurgeon clinician-investigators.
“This is the first accredited surgical residency training program sponsored by the NIH,” said Dr. Robert Lembo, deputy director of the NIH Office of Clinical Research Training and Medical Education. “More importantly, it is an effort to train highly competent neurosurgeons who are going to be board-certified clinicians clearly capable of performing translational research.”
The program—which recently received approval from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education—is also unique in that it is the first time NIH has collaborated with the University of Virginia to provide training, said Lembo.
Based on an innovative clinical and research curriculum, the program is designed to equip residents to be outstanding clinicians and independent researchers upon graduation. It will emphasize clinical diagnostic skills, technical competency and empathetic doctor-patient relationships and will at the same time develop trainees into world-class neurosurgeon investigators with independent research projects and funding upon completion of residency.
“Residents will conduct their research with mentoring from investigators across the NIH campus,” said Dr. Russell Lonser, chief of the NINDS Surgical Neurology Branch. “They will also operate on patients as part of their training.”
Eligible medical students will be hand-picked to participate in the program by NIH based on their commitment and aptitude for becoming leading neurosurgeon-investigators. Those selected will spend 2½ years in a broad-based clinical neurosurgery education program at U. Va., which will allow them to define research questions and discover special interests. Residents then will spend the next 3½ years at NIH developing their research skills and clinical abilities and conducting research. This period will be followed by a 1-year term of chief residency, a standard requirement for neurosurgeons at U. Va.
Although NIH offers a wealth of both under- and post-graduate training opportunities for students, this neurosurgical residency program—which provides accredited training to students directly out of medical school—is only the second of its kind on campus, according to Lembo. The other is NCI’s residency training program in anatomic pathology.