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World Neurosurg. 2013 Dec;80(6):745-50. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2013.08.027. Epub 2013 Aug 29.

Improving medical student recruitment into neurological surgery: a single institution's experience.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey, USA.



Neurological surgery is historically among one of the most competitive residency matches, but data suggest a downward trend in neurosurgical residency applicants in the United States. In 2002, our department, in conjunction with our institution, began an initiative to increase exposure to and interest in neurological surgery, targeting both undergraduate and medical students. This study outlines and assesses the factors used by our institution to successfully prepare and recruit medical students for residency in the field of neurological surgery.


This initiative has been divided into four phases to date. In phase one, a 2-week neurosurgical experience was incorporated into the existing Neurology/Psychiatry third-year clerkship, and a chapter to the Student Interest Group in Neurology was created. In phase two, the neurological surgery department increased efforts recruiting undergraduate students and preclinical medical students for research projects through a summer research program. During phase three, new neurosurgical course electives were added for third- and fourth-year medical students, as well as allowing earlier completion of a fourth-year acting internship. In phase four, a neurosurgical interest group was created.


Since the implementation of all four phases, the number of medical students matching successfully to neurological surgery at our institution has increased drastically.


An earlier, organized involvement of the neurosurgical department in medical student education can result in an improved understanding of the role of neurosurgeons among other practitioners as well as a greater number of well-qualified residency applicants into neurological surgery.


AANS; American Association of Neurological Surgeons; Medical student education; Neurological surgery; Neurosurgery interest group; Neurosurgical residency; Residency recruitment; SIGN; Student Interest Group in Neurology

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