MD Courses — Neurosurgery

First year


Instructor: Jennifer Strahle, MD, 454-2816
The objective for this selective course is to expose students to the field of neurosurgery and its subspecialty disciplines. There are nine sessions for the semester in which a faculty expert reviews a particular field and, along with chosen student discussion leaders, reviews key papers in the field to aid in developing critical reading of medical and neurosurgical literature. Topics span the breadth of neurosurgery and include the management of aneurysms, cutting edge brain tumor management, brain-computer interface technologies, surgical epilepsy, and contemporary complex spine surgery. In addition, students are encouraged to attend several neurosurgical Grand Rounds and clinical case discussion conferences, which are the working seminars in the department. Near the end of the course, students participate in a cadaver lab which provides hands-on experience with neurosurgical procedures involving the brain and spine and an interactive opportunity to work with attending neurosurgeons and residents instructors.

Third year

Clerkship opportunities

Students may elect to obtain their neurology clerkship experience on the neurosurgery service, or they can choose neurosurgery as part of the surgical specialty rotations. Third-year students participate with the residents and attendings on hospital rounds, evaluate patients in the neurosurgery outpatient department and participate in the neurosurgical operating room. The main objectives of the rotation include: 1) the evaluation of comatose or head-injured patients; 2) clinical presentation, diagnostic work-up and treatment of cervical and lumbar disc disease; and 3) evaluation and treatment of patients with hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke.

Fourth year

Elective Neurosurgery Externship

Students interested in pursuing a Neurosurgery residency can elect to spend 4 weeks on the neurosurgery service as a “sub-I/extern”. Students have an opportunity to gain a more in-depth look at the Washington University Neurosurgery training program and obtain clinical skills that will be useful as students transition to residency. Students can expect to spend time on both the adult and pediatric service with exposure to all aspects of Neurosurgery.


Instructor(s): Zach Ray, MD, 314-362-3570
Location: McMillan Hospital, 5th Floor, Neurosurgery Conference Room, 8:00 a.m. first day of elective.
Elective Contact: Zack Ray, MD, 314-362-3570, Sophie Church, 314-362-3636
Other Information: Students should contact Dr. Ray prior to the first day of the elective.
Enrollment limit per period: 4
Valid start weeks for 4-week blocks are: Weeks 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 25, 29, 33, 37, and 41.

The goal is to provide an overview of neurological surgery.  The fourth year medical student will participate in patient work-ups, pre, intra- and postoperative care, and diagnostic procedures.  Students will also scrub in cases with senior level and chief residents assisting with neurosurgical procedures and observing the more critical portions of these procedures.  It is expected that they will learn how to perform basic neurosurgical procedures such as lumbar punctures, ICP monitor placement, and ventricular drain placement.  Fourth year medical students are encouraged to participate in Grand Rounds, Neurosurgery Resident Curriculum conference, and Journal Club with the neurosurgery residents.  At least one day/week is spent in an outpatient neurosurgery office setting.  A week spent on the pediatric service at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is also strongly encouraged as a component of this fourth year elective.

Student time distribution: Inpatient 80%; Outpatient 20%, Conferences/Lectures 10%; Subspecialty Care 100%

Major teaching responsibility: N/A
Patients seen/weekly: 125
On call/weekend responsibility: None