The Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurological Sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine offers a fully accredited graduate medical program in adult and pediatric neurology. The goal of our neurology residency program is to train the next generation of neurologists to become leading clinicians, educators, and researchers. To meet these objectives, our program stimulates and challenges residents while providing supervision, support, and constructive feedback.
In the last two years, we have made several important changes to our neurology program, all of which have had a positive impact on the educational experience at Northwestern.
Our adult residency program has recently expanded to include 8 residents per class. This has allowed us to improve our staffing on the inpatient service, as well as give our residents more opportunities to pursue a broader experience in the outpatient and research realms.
We continually revise our entire educational curriculum to emphasize the increasing importance of ambulatory and subspecialty exposure in neurology. We have also established a flexible research pathway for trainees interested in basic or clinical research.
For residents seeking a career in clinical research or neuroscience, the curriculum change allows sustained academic activity over consecutive months, a pre-requisite for effective research and the preparation of successful career grant applications. For residents interested in clinical subspecialty training, it has allowed for more in depth experiences on ambulatory rotations.
Consolidation of all training on the downtown campus
In 2012, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago moved from Lincoln Park to a brand new state of the art facility located in the downtown medical campus. The move consolidated inpatient training on one campus. This has allowed for improved collaboration between the Pediatric and Adult Neurology residency programs and allows for combined clinical and research conferences in the subspecialties. Hence, every subspecialty division has a seamless transition of care from pediatric to adult patient population.
Neurological Intensive Care Unit
The combined Neurological-Neurosurgical intensive care unit, consisting of 24 beds, is equipped with sophisticated medical technology and provides advanced care to the most complicated and urgent neurological cases, often transferred from outside hospitals. The NICU has its own active fellowship program, carries out cutting edge clinical research, and plays an essential role in the education of Northwestern neurologists.
Clinical Neurophysiology rotation
This rotation is designed as a one month didactic introduction to clinical neurophysiology. The rotation is attended by the entire PGY-3 class in September each year. During this course, residents have no other clinical responsibilities other than their outpatient continuity clinic. The curriculum consists of didactic lectures (in the morning) and workshops in the afternoon (EEG reading, EMG interpretation, etc). The rotation is directed by Dr. Elizabeth Gerard and provides the foundation for future training in EEG, EMG, Sleep medicine and other electro-diagnostic based areas of neurology.
This rotation provides a consolidated experience in the assessment of neurological problems in the emergency room setting. The residents perform consults in the emergency room and decide on the disposition of the patients based on the discussion with the attending. This rotation also has significantly reduced the work load of the inpatient residents and the overnight call resident as the ER shift lasts from noon-9 PM when the ER is busiest. This allows two on-call residents in the evening’s busiest hours. Our residents consider the ER neurology rotation a highly valuable learning experience.
Evidence Based Medicine Curriculum
We have introduced a formal curriculum that covers the foundation of clinical research and clinical trials. The course is directed by Dr. Danny Bega, one of our Associate Program Directors. The course is required for the PGY-3 residents and consists of lectures across 5 weeks covering topics on clinical trials design, introduction to biostatistics and epidemiology, and provides the foundation for the residents to better interpret the literature. Residents also find this is a valuable course in providing background for their own research projects.
All residents are members of either the hospital general neurology quality committee or the stroke neurology quality committee during their PGY 3 or 4 year. Each resident also participates in our monthly morbidity and mortality conference and prepares this conference during their senior block. A quality improvement curriculum has been developed to teach important principles of QI to all residents involved in our neurology resident program. Opportunities to become involved in QI projects or research are available to interested residents.
Clinical and Research Mentorship
All first year (PGY-2) neurology residents are paired with a faculty neurologist who serves as their clinical mentor. The clinical mentorship program enables residents to establish regular and long-term contact with a faculty adviser who is available to review clinical skills, provide opportunities to see patients in the office, or simply offer encouragement and support during the early months of residency.
The research mentorship program is a more formal arrangement between the residency program and the Department that begins during the second year of neurology training. PGY-3 and PGY-4 residents planning to conduct a research project work closely with faculty research mentors who supervise and guide the residents through the research project. The goal of the program is to provide residents with training and experience in clinical research. Those who do a research project presented present their findings to the department during Ground Rounds in May-June during the final year of training. Residents are further encouraged to submit their final projects for presentation at national meetings and publication.
Individuals with research career plans are enrolled in the Northwestern Physician Scientist Program to plan their fellowship and grant application process during the second and third years of the residency. The electives are a valuable means of exploring the subspecialties of neurology, and it is possible for senior residents to begin taking advantage of Northwestern’s many academic resources, including the School of Public Health, to develop the next stage of their careers. We offer separate interview dates for the PSTP program applicants but PSTP candidates can interview on any of the residency interview dates.
In addition to clinical research mentorship, the neurology training program is a recipient of R25 NIH funding to support research tracks for clinician-scientists, with the eventual goal of establishing a career as an independent laboratory investigator.
The program guarantees a position in the preliminary medicine program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for six of the applicants who matched for neurology. Although we encourage applicants to complete PGY-1 at NMH, this is not required. A separate interview is not required, but a visit can be arranged upon request. However, applicants must apply through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) and list NMH and in the supplementary rank list. See the Application Guidelines section for more information.
The objectives of the first year of neurology are to develop proficiency in neurological examinations and to learn the basis of neuroanatomy and neurological differential diagnosis. During this year, inpatient neurology rotations on the adult services at Northwestern Memorial Hospital provide the core of clinical experience. Residents assist in caring for a variety of patients, developing skills in evaluating primary neurological disorders, and nervous system complications of general medical problems. Neurology residents also gain experience as consultants in the emergency room and hospital. A senior resident and faculty member supervise junior residents on inpatient and consultation services throughout the year. All junior residents have an outpatient rotation which allows exposure to all the outpatient subspecialty clinics in the junior residency year. In addition, a continuity neurology clinic begins in the PGY-2 year. A sample of the neurology resident schedule by the year of training is presented below:
Neurology rotations by year of training
Rotation (in 4-week blocks)1
Pediatric Neurology *
1 All rotations occur at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital except for Pediatric Neurology, which occurs at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago or off-site clinics, and Continuity clinics, which occur either at VA or NMH. Shuttles between NMH and offsite clinics are available throughout the day.
2 PGY-2 residents spend 1 week in the epilepsy monitoring unit
3 PGY-3 residents spend 2 weeks in the epilepsy monitoring unit, one of which is during the epilepsy rotation
Note that some required outpatient rotations in the PGY-3 year can be moved to the PGY-4 year to allow for some of the elective time to occur in PGY-3 year.
Inpatient experience continues in the second and third years but there is a greater emphasis on supervisory roles and more specialized activities. In addition to general neurology continuity-of-care clinics, second- and third-year residents have subspecialty ambulatory care rotations that provide opportunities to participate in the care of unique patient populations. Subspecialty clinic options include cognitive and behavioral neurology, stroke, movement disorders, epilepsy, sleep disorders, neuromuscular disorders and ALS, neuro-ophthalmology, neuro-otology, multiple sclerosis, neuro-oncology, headache, general neurology, and chronic pain. A child neurology rotation also is part of the senior experience. Residents can elect either an outpatient pediatric neurology clinics rotation or pediatric epilepsy experience.
During the second and third years, approximately 12 months of elective time is available, designed to provide opportunities for training in clinical neurophysiology, neuroradiology, neuropathology, neurological surgery, psychiatry, neurological rehabilitation, and other areas of particular interest to the resident. Working with a faculty adviser, each resident develops an elective program to meet his or her long-term educational goals.
During the three-year program, residents are encouraged to participate in the department's research programs in clinical or laboratory investigation. These experiences aid their ability to critically evaluate research studies and published literature and gain an appreciation for this important part of neurology. Presenting results at a national meeting and publishing in peer-reviewed journals are encouraged and supported by the department.
In addition, residents are required to participate in either a quality improvement project or research project during the training program.
All residents participate in on-call duties throughout the three-year neurology program. Residents take in-house call based on the night float system. Currently, junior residents average five weeks of night float a year and second year residents average two weeks. During the first two months of the year, each junior resident has a buddy call night float week where they are supervised by an in-house senior resident. Thus, the junior resident's on-call responsibilities are graded, supervised, and structured to emphasize the academic and learning aspects of the experience. Residents on rotation at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago do not take call.
Residents are responsible for continuity clinics beginning in their PGY2 year. They are assigned to the clinic at VA Jesse Brown and Northwestern Medical Group. During the second and third years, residents rotate through outpatient subspecialty and general neurology clinics and have experience in neurologists' private offices. Pediatric fellows attend clinics at Lurie Children's Hospital. Clinics are supervised by attending physicians to provide a valuable educational experience.
Morning report is conducted 3 days per week under the guidance of a faculty member. This conference is designed to foster discussion of cases and various neurology topics among residents and students.
Boot Camp: In July, PGY-2 residents attend a full day of neurology “boot camp” which is a series of interactive lectures and simulations to introduce and train new neurology residents on a variety of emergency neurology topics. Specific modules include status epilepticus, stroke codes and thrombolytic and interventional therapy, lumbar puncture simulation, ophthalmoscopy, and neurological examination in the comatose patient.
Weekly conferences include:
- Basic Science course (Friday, 7 to 9 a.m.)
- Professor Clinical Rounds (Thursday, 12 noon)
- Clinical Case Conferences with Neuroradiology or Grand Rounds (Thursday, 7:30 a.m.)
- Resident Subspecialty Clinical Conferences (Monday, Thursday and Friday, 12 noon)
Monthly conferences include:
- Journal Club
- Brain Cutting
- Clinic-pathological Conference (CPC)
- Morbidity and Mortality
Each division holds subspecialty conferences that residents are encouraged to attend during their elective rotations. A sample of the weekly conference schedule is presented below. The full schedule of conferences is available through the calendar. The department holds residents to the highest academic standards. The senior residents present their research projects to the department in a grand rounds format, and residents are encouraged to present their work at regional and national conferences.
- Download a sample conference schedule
- Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry - Program Director, M. Marsel Mesulam, MD
- Clinical Neurophysiology – Program Director, Jessica Templer, MD
- Epilepsy - Program Director, Stephan U Schuele, MD/MPH
- Movement Disorders - Program Director, Cindy Zadikoff, MD
- Multiple Sclerosis - Program Director, Roumen Balabanov, MD
- Neurocritical Care - Program Director, Andrew Naidech, MD
- Neuromuscular Medicine - Program Director, Senda Ajroud-Driss, MD
- Neuro-Oncology - Program Director, Priya Kumthekar, MD
- Sleep Medicine - Program Director, Hrayr Attarian, MD
- Vascular Neurology - Program Director, Shyam Prabhakaran, MD
Class of 2016
Clinical Neurophysiology – Northwestern University – 1
Epilepsy – Northwestern University – 1
Cognitive Neurology – Northwestern University –1
Neuromuscular – Northwestern University – 1
Movement Disorders – University of California, San Francisco –1
Multiple Sclerosis/Neuroimmunology – University of Chicago – 1
Class of 2015
Clinical Neurophysiology – Rush University – 1
Sleep – Northwestern University – 1
Movement Disorders – Northwestern University - 1
Stroke – University of Cincinnati – 1
Epilepsy – University of Michigan – 1
Post-doctoral Research – Northwestern University - 1
Class of 2014
Clinical Neurophysiology – University of Chicago – 1
Sleep – Northwestern University – 2
Sleep – U of Wisconsin - 1
Stroke – University of Pennsylvania – 1
Stroke – University of Washington – 1
Class of 2013
Clinical Neurophysiology – Northwestern University – 3
Clinical Neurophysiology – University of Chicago – 1
Neuromuscular – Massachusetts General – 1
Stroke – Northwestern University – 1
Class of 2012
Clinical neurophysiology – Northwestern University – 2
Clinical neurophysiology – University of Chicago – 1
Clinical neurophysiology – University of California-San Diego – 1
Neuro-Oncology – Northwestern University – 1
Cognitive – University of California San Francisco – 1
Class of 2011
Clinical neurophysiology – Northwestern University – 1
Neuro-Oncology – Northwestern University – 1
Sleep Medicine – University of Chicago – 1
Epilepsy/EEG – Cleveland Clinic – 1
Neuromuscular – Oregon Health and Science – 1
Neuromuscular Research – Northwestern University – 1
Class of 2010
Clinical neurophysiology – Northwestern University – 1
Clinical neurophysiology – University of Michigan – 1
Clinical neurophysiology – University of California San Diego - 1
Neuromuscular – University of Illinois - Chicago – 1
Multiple Sclerosis – Northwestern University – 1
Class of 2009
Movement Disorders and Sleep Medicine – Northwestern University – 1
Clinical neurophysiology – University of Washington – 1
Stroke- University of Iowa – 1
Pain- Mayo Clinic-Rochester – 1
Neurological Critical Care – Northwestern University – 1
Movement Disorders – Northwestern University – 1
Class of 2008
Clinical neurophysiology – Rush University – 2
Neurological Critical care – Northwestern University – 1
Stroke – Northwestern University – 1
Epilepsy – University of Pennsylvania – 1
Movement Disorders – Duke University – 1
- Northwestern Memorial Hospital
is the primary teaching hospital of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. The state-of-the-art 600-bed medical facility was opened in 1999. The medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians have clinical faculty appointments at the medical school. Northwestern Memorial is noted for outstanding primary as well as tertiary care. The hospital has a dedicated neurointensive care unit and an acute stroke unit. In 2015, Northwestern Memorial Hospital was ranked the top hospital in Chicago and in Illinois, and is the 11th best hospital in the country in US News and World Report. In neurology and neurosurgery, we are ranked 10th in the country.
- VA Chicago Health Care System
is an integral part of the neurology residency training program. Residents may have their outpatient continuity clinics at the Jesse Brown VA in Chicago, which provides exposure to unique neurological pathology and allows training in management of chronic neurological conditions.
- Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
(formerly Children's Memorial) moved from Lincoln Park in 2012 to the state of the art facility located in the downtown medical campus. Several pediatric neurology clinics remain in the Lincoln Park location, and regular shuttles between Lurie Children’s Hospital and the clinics are available. The neurology department is renowned for its comprehensive epilepsy program, MDA, and neurodevelopmental clinics.
Northwestern offers a competitive salary and benefits package. Residents have four weeks of vacation per year and one week for an educational conference over the course of residency. A stipend is provided for residents who make presentations at national meetings. Limited housing for residents is available on the Northwestern campus. More information can be obtained from Graduate Medical Education, and from the Northwestern University housing office.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital is located in the heart of the city, one block from the historic Water Tower. With a population of seven million, the city is the cultural, commercial, and industrial center of the Midwest. The city offers a wealth of cultural, recreational, and entertainment opportunities. Visit the City of Chicago website to find out more.