Neurosurgery Residency

Length and Rotation

The residency program in Neurological Surgery at University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is seven years in length. PGY-1 residents complete three months of general surgery, three months of neurology, and six months of neurosurgery. PGY-2 residents spend 12 months on the neurosurgery service, rotating between the two clinical neurosurgery teams: Port (Vascular) and Starboard (Tumor). PGY-3 residents complete a 4 1/2 month rotation at Shock Trauma Center (STC), six months as the night float resident caring for patients at the Medical Center, Shock Trauma, and the VAMC, and six weeks of neuropathology.

PGY-4 residents spend six months at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, three months at Johns Hopkins Hospital pediatric neurosurgery department, six weeks in diagnostic neuroradiology, and six weeks in an elective (radiosurgery or research preparation). PGY-5 residents devote themselves to a faculty supervised research project or clinical experience of the resident's choosing, either here or at another approved program.

PGY-6 residents serve six months as the senior resident at Baltimore VAMC's neurosurgical services. The remaining six months are spent completing their research project or clinical experience from the previous year. The PGY-7 resident is the Chief Resident on the neurosurgery service for 12 months and is expected to function as an expert clinician, teacher, and supervisor.

Sample Rotation Schedule

Resident Level Neurosurgery Rotation Schedule
PYG-1 3-month General Surgery Rotation (Trauma, Transplant, VA SICU) 3-month Neurology Rotation 6-month Neurosurgery Rotation
PGY-2 12-month Neurosurgery Rotation
PGY-3 4 ½-month Shock Trauma Rotation 6-month Night Float Rotation (cover Medical Center, Shock Trauma, and VAMC) 6-week Neuropathology Rotation
PGY-4 3-month Johns Hopkins Hospital Pediatric Neurosurgery Rotation 6-month Greater Baltimore Medical Center Rotation 6-week Diagnostic Neuroradiology Rotation 6-week Elective (Radiosurgery or Research Preparation)
PGY-5 12-month Research or Clinical Elective
PGY-6 6-month VAMC Rotation 6-month Research or Clinical Elective
PGY-7 12-month Neurosurgery Rotation  - Chief Resident

Board Requirements

Each resident is required to take the American Board of Neurological Surgery primary written examination annually for self-assessment, starting at the PGY-2 level. Residents are required to pass the exam for credit in the 5th or 6th year. The examination must be passed before attaining Chief Resident status.


Didactic teaching is carried out in a wide variety of weekly conferences for neurosurgery residents, faculty, and medical students. They focus on a broad range of neurosurgical topics, as well as topics from other disciplines, and allows for close interaction and lively discussions between those in attendance.

Faculty Case Conference: Thursdays, 7:00am - 7:30am

This conference is led by a neurosurgery faculty member on a rotating basis. The main focus is case analysis and in-depth discussion on neurosurgical conditions and treatments.

Neurosurgery Grand Rounds: 1st, 2nd, and 4th Thursdays, 7:30am - 8:30am

This conference is led by a wide variety of speakers from neurosurgery (residents, faculty, and medical students) and guest speakers from other disciplines. The topics are diverse and include, but are not limited to, neurophysiology, neuroradiology, neurology, cerebrovascular surgery, pain management, pediatric neurosurgery, and stereotactic and functional neurosurgery. Other general topics are included such as general critical care, infection control, and practice management issues.

Mortality and Morbidity (M&M) Conference: 3rd Thursdays, 7:30am - 8:30am

Selected cases and their accompanying complications from the services of UMMC, VA, and Shock Trauma are chosen for presentation by the QA Officer, Bizhan Aarabi, M.D., and the neurosurgery faculty. The conference consists of a relevant clinical summary, identifying the complication, presenting a short referenced presentation on the topic, and outlining a management plan to prevent the complication in the future. In addition to neurosurgery faculty and residents, representatives from the offices of Quality Assurance, neuropathology, and neuroradiology attend.

Neurosurgery Spine Conference: Thursdays, 7:00pm - 7:30pm

This conference is led by neurosurgery faculty member Charles Sansur, M.D., M.H.Sc., a fellowship-trained spine neurosurgeon. This conference focuses on cervical, thoracic, and lumbar surgery of the spine and patient management issues.

Tumor Conference: Monthly on Thursdays, 7:00am - 7:30am

This conference is led by Graeme Woodworth, MD, a fellowship-trained neurosurgeron. Emphasis is placed on neuro-oncology topics, operative techniques and patient management issues.

Neuroanatomy Conference: Thursdays, 6:00pm - 6:45pm (Oct. - Mar.)

This conference is led by neurosurgery faculty member Bizhan Aarabi, M.D. from October to March each year. Basic to advanced neuroanatomy material is covered throughout this annual conference.

Journal Club: Monthly on Mondays, 5:30pm - 7:30pm

This conference brings residents together to critically evaluate scholarly journal articles written about various neurosurgical conditions. In-depth analysis and discussion amongst the residents is the primary focus of this conference. At least 1-2 faculty members are present to answer any questions the residents may have during the discussion.

Henderson Lecture: Annually, Wednesday, 9:00am - 10:00am

This annual lecture is presented by an outstanding neurosurgeon chosen by the residents and faculty during a selection process. The date of the lecture is determined by the chosen speaker. This lecture is funded by a benefactor in honor of the deceased neurosurgeon, Dr. Charles M. Henderson, who practiced in Baltimore for 26 years. Dr. Henderson was the first president of the Maryland Neurosurgical Society and a member of the Congress of Neurological Surgery, the American Board of Neurological Surgery, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society.

Neurosurgical Research Laboratories

The Neurosurgical Research Labs, under the direction of Dr. J. Marc Simard, have three non-clinical departmental faculty members, all of whom have active extramural funding, solely dedicated to this laboratory. Six research associates, assistants or specialists and three postdoctoral fellows support the research efforts of the four faculty members.

This large mix of talented people provides a unique environment in which neurosurgical residents can develop their scientific interests. For example, a neurosurgery resident who graduated two years ago obtained a Ph.D. while working with Dr. Simard.

The Neurosurgical Research Laboratories occupy 4,340 square feet in the School of Medicine.

The laboratories are internally connected to the primary site, the University Hospital and the academic offices. The laboratories are fully equipped with all the necessary items required for state-of-the-art electrophysiological and molecular biological experimentation.

Research in the laboratories is directed toward the study of molecular and cellular mechanisms of injury after ischemia or trauma, with a particular focus on ion channels in cerebrovascular smooth muscle cells, endothelium, astrocytes and neurons. The methodologies utilized are comprehensive, including animal models of CNS injury, electrophysiological, molecular, and sub-cellular structural investigations.

This research is supported entirely by extramural funding, which for the current academic year includes five NIH RO1's, two Veterans Administration Merit Review grants, a grant from the Department of Defense, and several smaller awards.

Recent work of the laboratories has resulted in the discovery of a novel ion channel that appears to be critically involved in ischemia-induced pathophysiological processes in the CNS. Several patent applications have been filed related to this work, and a company has been formed, funded by a venture capital firm, to advance commercialization of this work.

Residency Application

This program participates in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) and utilizes the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) to review all neurosurgery residency applications. Applications are due November 1 the year preceding the match deadline. Selected applicants will be notified via email and will be asked to interview with the neurosurgery faculty and residents. A dinner is held the evening prior to the interviews.

For more information regarding eligibility criteria, please go to the Graduate Medical Education website located here and choose the policy titled, “Resident Eligibility, Selection, and Participation in Educational Activities”:

For further details, please call 410-328-8621 or e-mail

Special Features

Located three blocks from Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the University of Maryland Medical Center was founded in 1807 and opened the nation's first teaching hospital in 1823. The Medical Center, in cooperation with the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has always acknowledged the close relationship between excellent patient care, comprehensive medical training, and substantive scientific research, and is today guided by that vision as it develops new laboratory facilities, patient care centers, and an extensive research library.

The Department of Neurological Surgery serves patients at three separate, but physically connected, medical facilities located on the UMB campus: The Gudelsky Building of the University of Maryland Medical Center was added in 1994; the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center opened in 1989; and the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center was completed in 1993.

The UMMC neurosurgery faculty complete over 1,600 adult and pediatric surgical procedures annually with the assistance of the neurosurgery residents. Four dedicated operating rooms provide faculty and residents with new operative microscopes, an image guided stereotactic system, intraoperative angiographic capability, and electronic imaging technology. The Department's Gamma Knife Center houses further specialized equipment for the treatment of intracranial tumors and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Intensive care is provided in a neurosurgery-directed, state-of-the-art unit in the Gudelsky building. The Department is jointly responsible for coordinating the Neurotrauma Program at the Shock Trauma Center and the Neuro-Oncology Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Outpatients are seen at several clinics on the UMMC campus.

The neurosurgery core faculty team has expertise in diverse areas of research and clinical sub-specialties. Seven full-time faculty members specialize in the treatment of cerebrovascular disorders, epilepsy, brain tumors, skull base surgery, spinal abnormalities, trauma, and pediatric disorders. The core faculty is supported by a team of joint faculty in neurology, radiology, and neuropathology, and by a large roster of part-time clinical faculty.

This program's success is rooted in the breadth and balance of the faculty's broad expertise. Residents have the opportunity to develop their general neurosurgical skills, while gaining valuable experience in subspecialty areas. The combination of multidisciplinary faculty teaching, diverse surgical experience, frequent didactics, and an intensive program of research provide residents with the skills necessary to be successful contributors to the field of neurosurgery during and after graduating successfully from this residency program.

For more information about the University of Maryland Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, or to make an appointment, call the University Physicians Consultation and Referral Service at 1-800-492-5538 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).

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