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GME > Residency Programs > Neurosurgery > About The Program
About Rush University


Program Overview

Rush University Medical Center is one of the nation's leading academic medical centers, with 600 residents and fellows each year in 22 clinical departments.

Rush neurosurgery has assembled a team of specialists in all areas of neurosurgery to maximize surgical expertise and residency training opportunities. We have made a commitment to always having state-of-the-art technology and to further develop that technology. We are dedicated to research that will fast-track the transfer of intellectual and technological advances from the laboratory to the bedside.

In short, we have created a program that offers neurosurgical residents an unparalleled opportunity to train with expert specialists in an educational setting that provides rich learning opportunities, maximum OR experience, time and support for research activities, and the opportunity to develop as an individual as well as a neurosurgeon.

Rush's central location brings a patient population representative of the city, surrounding suburbs and multiple surrounding states to our door steps.

Ours is a seven-year program: post-graduate years (PGY) 1 - 7. Clinical experience in virtually all areas of neurosurgery are obtained primarily through rotations at Rush. Trauma neurosurgical exposure is obtained at Lutheran General Hospital during a dedicated six-month rotation.

We feel that the evolution of neurological surgery must prompt a shift in emphasis in training. As general surgery experience becomes less important and diagnostic neurology less germane, imaging interpretation and physiologic fusion have become more integral to the development of clinical skills. The changes in the sociology of medicine have forced neurological surgeons to become more aware and responsive to costs and outcomes. Expertise in outpatient procedures, an emphasis on diagnosis and treatment planning, and a need to understand and facilitate outpatient communication further shift the paradigm.

In response, even more education, knowledge and judgment must be gained in a compacted time frame. Therefore, we have advanced our residency training program away from the classical service structure to a more truly academic one. By utilizing physician assistants and nurse practitioners to perform routine tasks and service functions, our residents have more time for academic pursuits, clinic participation and the operating room. Consequently, our residents spend more time in the OR and in academic pursuits.

Our clinical program is designed to introduce the resident to ever greater levels of independence in surgical thought and action. In the junior years, basic principles of management, including intensive neuromedical care and surgical applications are emphasized. As experience is gained and a knowledge base established, increasing independence is earned.

As an intermediate level clinical resident, responsibility for developing and implementing the treatment plan is realized. Exposure to more intensive super-specialization is offered to help residents appreciate and assimilate the nuances of tighter focus and the advantages of higher technology.

At the chief level, the cumulative experience of the previous years is expressed in a mature paradigm of neurosurgical independence within a faculty support system. At this point, the trainee should be adequately prepared to function at the highest level of general neurosurgical care. Options for specialization through additional fellowship training can be exercised.

Elective Clerkship in Neurosurgery

Through our nationally recognized team of sub-specialized neurosurgical faculty and administrative and research staff, we offer a comprehensive external rotation to medical students and student observers. Below are directions on how to apply for an external rotation, as well as information on how to apply as an observer. Please note, if you are applying for the external rotation; please email, program coordinator, once your VSAS application has been submitted.

Apply for an External Rotation

VSAS Login

In order to apply for a rotation, your medical school must issue you authorization before you may log in to VSAS. You will be notified of these authorizations by email. If you have not recieved this email, please contact your medical school with this authorization request. Please note, Rush accepts applications from visiting students from LCME-accredited medical schools only.

Visiting Student Application

Rush Medical College uses the Association of American Colleges VSAS to recieve and process visiting student applications. Neurosurgery is offered as an elective and can be either two or four weeks long, starting at the beginning and mid-month. Once you have created a login, you can search and apply for this elective rotation.

Under the "Search Electives" Tab

  • Keyword: neurosurgery (please note, neurosurgery is listed as an elective through the specialty, general surgery)
  • Institution: Rush Medical College
  • Follow prompts to apply
Student rotators are accepted on a first come, first served basis.
Medical Student Rotation Requirements
  • Attendance at daily rounds
  • Two complete histories and physicals per week with copies to course director
  • One 10 - 15 minute presentation - departmental correlative neurosurgery conference. Provide copy of presentation for department files.
  • Take call per chief resident instructions.
  • Attendance at all of the departmental conferences that are required of residents and all Wednesday student/intern lectures.


  • To learn the indications and general principals of surgical therapy for neurological disease
  • To recognize the presenting symptoms of neurosurgical disease processes
  • To understand initial management principles and diagnostic pathways


  • Perform a competent neurological evaluation
  • Understand the fundamentals of x-ray and computerized (CT, MRI) imaging of the central nervous system
  • Learn the broad categories of brain tumors
  • Recognize the presenting symptoms of intracranial and subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Understand the various categories of spine disease
  • Recognize the symptoms and signs of raised intracranial pressure especially hydrocephalus
Student Observer
Rush neurosurgery welcomes medical students, both national and international, to observe. Observation periods will last for up to two weeks. We have two spots per month open for observers, on a first come, first served basis. To qualify to our student observer program, you must have completed USMLE Step-1 Exam, provide two letters of reccomendation and a personal statement outlining why you are interested in observing our program. Please email Michelle Grand, program coordinator at or call (312) 942-1854 if you are interested in observing.

Clinical Programs

The Department of Neurosurgery at Rush University Medical Center offers a seven-year, post-MD training program approved by the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

The residency program at Rush trains great neurosurgeons. It does so because we offer a plethora of surgical opportunities, a strong intellectual foundation, a robust research program, unparalleled technology and attention to personal, as well as professional growth.

The program covers the following areas:

Cerebrovascular And Endovascular Surgery

This section provides comprehensive training in microsurgery for intracranial and brachiocephalic vascular disease, as well as the full array of endovascular procedures.
The Rush Epilepsy Center has one of the largest referral bases and clinical volumes in the Midwest. Residents receive exposure to both current and investigational medical and surgical treatments for epilepsy.

Functional Neurosurgery

This section deals with movement disorders, particularly Parkinson's disease and dystonias with both ablative and deep brain stimulation techniques. Research projects include neurotransplantation and testing of neurotrophins for neurodegenerative disease.


The Section of Neuro-Oncology enjoys state-of-the-art surgery facilities, including image-guided technology and stereotactic radiosurgery capabilities. Surgery for skull base tumors is done in collaboration with ENT and plastic surgery.

Peripheral Nerve

Residents receive training in standard peripheral nerve procedures, as well as brachial plexus reconstruction and tumor removal.

Pediatric Neurosurgery

The Department of Neurosurgery is working with Rush Children's Hospital to develop an innovative, comprehensive service line for pediatric neurosurgical cases. Through our relationship with the Rush Craniofacial Center, residents have exposure to reconstructive surgery for craniofacial and craniosynostotic deformities.


This section offers the complete spectrum of care for spinal disorders,  including endoscopic and minimally-invasive surgery. 
Stereotactic Radiosurgery
Through a required rotation in radiosurgery, residents are exposed to an unparalleled array of technology, including the Gamma Knife, the Peacock intensity modulation system and the X-Knife modified linear accelerator.


During rotation at Lutheran General Hospital, residents are exposed to a wide variety of head and spine injuries. Intensive care treatment includes intracranial pressure monitoring with emphasis on ventilatory management. In addition, a large volume of tumors are surgically treated utilizing intra-operative MRI.


Requirements For Satisfactory Completion Of The Neurosurgery Residency

  • Completion of all rotations required by the RRC of the ABNS and the program.
  • Demonstration of competency in the ACGME core competencies to the level expected of a new practitioner.
  • Demonstration to the satisfaction of the teaching faculty, the technical skills necessary to perform all major and minor neurosurgical procedures.
  • Passed for credit Part III of the USMLE by the end of the PGY 2 year.
  • Passed for credit the primary examination of the ABNS.
  • Satisfactory evaluations from all of the teaching faculty for each year of training.
  • Participation in all outpatient clinics and activities as required by the program.
  • Timely and legible completion of all medical records assigned to the individual resident.
  • Publication of a paper in a peer-reviewed journal during each year of the residency. This requirement can also be met with presentation of an abstract or poster at a national neurosurgical meeting.
  • Completion of a minimum of 12 months as the chief resident.


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