Neurosurgery is a smaller residency specialty, with only 225 positions offered in 110 programs. In the 2018 match, 240 US seniors applied and 203 matched. Neurosurgeons aren’t just brain surgeons, they are medical specialists who diagnose and treat disorders of the entire nervous system – brain, spinal cord, skull and the spine. While neurosurgeons do operate on the brain, they actually spend nearly 70 percent of their time helping patients with spine and peripheral nerve problems, providing surgical and nonsurgical care. Here are some of the best medical schools for neurosurgery, based on 2018 matches into neurological surgery residency positions.
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The Neurosurgical Service at Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School offer a clerkship in neurosurgery for third and fourth year medical students. Accepted students into the four week rotation spend time learning about several Pediatric, Spine, Tumor, and Cerebrovascular services. They assist in surgeries and participate in weekly conferences. Harvard Medical School, located in Boston’s medical research hub, is surprisingly small. With a class size of 165, the MD program is highly competitive, with a median matriculant GPA of 3.92 and a median MCAT score of 519. In 2018, 3 Harvard Medical School students matched into neurological surgery residency programs.
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In 2018, 2 Stony Brook seniors matched into neurosurgery residencies. The school offers a third and fourth year rotation in neurosurgery for students to establish foundations in fundamental clinical skills, including neurological examination and the acquisition of basic skills in diagnosis and management of neurosurgical patients. During the rotation, students will prepare and submit reports of two neurosurgical patients that the students have cared for on the service during the rotation. The Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, located in Stony Brook, New York, has an entering class of 136 students with a median MCAT score of 514 and a median GPA of 3.82.
The Department of Neurological Surgery offers elective third-year clerkships and fourth-year subinternships to undergraduate medical students at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Feinberg students who are interested in getting a deeper look into neurosurgery are invited to rotate with their team for two weeks during the third year of medical school. One week is spent with the cranial team and one week with the spine team. Selective students are expected to round with the residents in the morning, attend cases in the operating room throughout the day and attend resident and student teaching conferences as they occur throughout the two weeks. Medical students who are planning to pursue careers in neurological surgery are invited to rotate with our team for four weeks during the fourth year of medical school. In 2018, 3 Feinberg seniors matched into neurological surgery residencies. The Chicago-based medical school admits a class of 161, with a median GPA of 3.91 and a median MCAT score of 520.
The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania saw 3 students match into neurological surgery residency programs. To get into Penn, you’ll need to target top GPA and MCAT scores—the median at Perelman is 3.88 and 520 respectively. Students interested in neurosurgery can join the Langfitt Neurosurgical Society, which introduces students to fellow students interested in neurosurgery, to Penn’s neurosurgery faculty and to discuss relevant topics in neurosurgery on a student level. In addition, the group provides support and advice for students who will enter the match in neurosurgery.
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The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine class of 2022 received close to 6,800 applications for its entering class of 162, with a median MCAT score of 516 and a mean GPA of 3.78. In the 2018 residency match, 3 UPSOM students went into neurosurgery residencies. During their surgery core clerkship, third-year medical students may elect to take a two-week introductory subspecialty experience in neurosurgery. Selective fourth-year medical students at the University of Pittsburgh may elect to take a four-week clinical subinternship on the neurosurgery services at UPMC, during which they participate in all phases of the training program as well as in supervised patient care services. Typically each four-week rotation includes experience on cranial, spinal, and pediatric neurosurgery.
An MCAT score around 519 will make you a competitive applicant to Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, which matched 3 seniors to neurological surgery residency programs in 2018. The Neurological Surgery Advanced Clerkship/Sub-internship runs for a period of four weeks, allowing students a hands-on experience of patient care, operating, and more. The primary goal for a Columbia sub-intern is to obtain an understanding of basic neurosurgical principles through operative experiences.
In 2018, 3 Johns Hopkins seniors matched into neurological surgery residencies. The prestigious MD program’s competitive students came in with high scores—the median GPA is 3.92, median MCAT is 520, and the school offered admission to just 262 of 6,300 applicants, of which 118 attended Johns Hopkins offers medical students a sub-internship or a clinical elective in Neurosurgery. There are approximately 4,000 neurosurgical operations taking place annually at 2 Hopkins campuses.
Offered to senior medical students interested in pursuing neurosurgical residency training to become a neurosurgeon, the Neurosurgery Subinternship provides an invaluable experience in understanding the great privilege and demands of being a neurosurgeon. The Yale Neurosurgery Sub-Internship is required for all Yale medical students who want to match in any Neurosurgery Residency Program. It allows medical students to vastly extend their breadth of knowledge of neurological diseases and how they are managed both surgically and non-surgically. Four Yale seniors matched into neurological surgery residencies in 2018. It is one of the toughest schools to be admitted to, with a median MCAT score of 521 and GPA of 3.88.
The Neurosurgery Interest Group at UCLA helps students explore careers in neurosurgery, the road to residency, and the diversity of the various career paths and research that can be chosen within the specialty. It also helps connect the neurosurgery department at UCLA and the medical students for mixers, lunch talks, neurosurgery events, and collaboration in research opportunities. The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA received more than 11,000 applications in 2017 for its 175 seats in the entering class, making it one of the most coveted programs in the country. The median MCAT score was 517, just above the 95th percentile, and the median GPA was 3.85. In 2018, five DGSOM seniors matched into neurological surgery residency programs.
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Five Case Western seniors matched into neurosurgery residencies in 2017. This Cleveland, Ohio school boasts a median GPA of 3.82 and a median MCAT score of 518 for its entering class size of 217 students. All Case medical students complete a core clerkship in Neuroscience during their third year of medical school. The clerkship allows students direct, hands-on experience caring for patients with a wide variety of neurological disorders. Students participate actively on the clinical service under the supervision of Neurosurgery and Neurology residents and attendings. During the time spent on the Neurosurgery service, students have the opportunity to participate in patient management in both inpatient and outpatient settings with emphasis placed on an understanding of neurosurgical pathophysiology and operating room experience.