Training Requirements

Training Requirements

For Candidates Who Began Training On Or After July 1, 2013

All post-graduate training described must be acquired as a resident in a neurological surgery training program or programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). It must be under the ultimate direction and control of the resident’s neurosurgery program director.

Eighty-four months of neurosurgical residency training in ACGME accredited programs under the direction of a neurosurgical program director. This must consist of:

Fifty-four months of core clinical neurosurgery, including:

  • Twelve months as chief resident during the last two years of training (PGY-6 or 7)
  • Three months of basic neuroscience (e.g., neurology, neuro-otology, neuroradiology or neuropathology) taken in the first 18 months of training
  • Three months of critical care relevant to neurosurgery patients taken in the first 18 months of training
  • A minimum of six months of structured education in general patient care (e.g., trauma, general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology or plastic surgery).
  • Twenty-one months must be spent in one program
  • Thirty months of electives in areas such as neuropathology, neuroradiology, research, additional neurosurgery or possibly in areas of special interest such as complex spine surgery, endovascular or pediatric neurosurgery or clinical and non-clinical neurosciences.
  • Six to 12 months in an outside rotation in an ACGME accredited program may be counted towards the core 54 months of neurosurgery training. The program director must request credit from the ABNS prior to the rotation.
  • Credit towards the 30 months of elective time may be requested by a program director for prior educational experiences, such as a PhD degree in a relevant subject, clinical rotations other than fellowships obtained at non-ACGME accredited programs, and neurosurgical training completed outside of the U.S., particularly if the resident is certified in that country. Written requests submitted by the program director to the ABNS must contain a complete description of the experience and justification of the request.
  • The board will evaluate ACGME case log data as a measure of the breadth of resident experience at the completion of residency training.

For Candidates Who Began Training Between July 1, 2009 And June 30, 2013

All post-graduate training described must be acquired as a resident in a neurological surgery training program or programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). It must be under the ultimate direction and control of the resident’s neurosurgery Program Director.

Seventy-two months of neurosurgical residency training in ACGME accredited programs under the direction of a neurosurgical program director. This must consist of:

  • Forty-two months of core clinical neurosurgery, including 12 months as chief resident. At least 21 months must be spent in one program.
  • PGY-1 must include a minimum of three months of fundamental clinical skills training (critical care, trauma and other rotations as designated by the program director); it may include up to six months of neurosurgery that will count toward the 42 months required.
  • Three months of clinical neurology taken during the first three years of training, preferably during the PGY-1.
  • Twenty-four months of electives, e.g., neuropathology, neuroradiology, research or additional neurosurgery, possibly in areas of special interest such as complex spine surgery, endovascular, or pediatric neurosurgeryor clinical and non-clinical neurosciences.

For Candidates Who Began Training prior to July 1, 2009

All post-graduate training must be acquired as a resident in a neurological surgery training program or programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).  The training must be under the ultimate direction and control of the resident’s neurosurgery program director.

PGY-1, 12 months of fundamental clinical skills

  • Twelve month surgical internship in an institution accredited by the ACGME, or
  • Six months in surgical disciplines and six months of other clinical disciplines under the program director of an ACGME accredited neurosurgical residency. Up to three months of neurosurgery and three months of neurology may be included.
  • Sixty months of neurosurgical residency training in ACGME accredited program(s) under the direction of a neurosurgical program director. Training must consist of:
    • Thirty-six months of core clinical neurosurgery, including 12 months as chief resident
    • Three months of clinical neurology done during the PGY-1, although that does not shorten the required length of training
    • Twenty-one to 24 months (depending on when neurology is done) of electives, e.g., neuropathology, neuroradiology, research or additional neurosurgery, possibly in areas of special interest such as complex spine surgery, endovascular or pediatric neurosurgery or clinical and non-clinical neurosciences
    • At least 24 months must be spent in one program

Additional Training Requirements

All post-graduate training described must be acquired as a resident in a neurological surgery training program or programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). It must be under the ultimate direction and control of the resident’s neurosurgery program director.

Training of any type, including research, done in institutions outside of the parent program and its affiliated hospitals will not count toward meeting these requirements unless credit is requested in writing from the board prospectively by the program director and approved in writing. As of July 1, 2013, rotations of six to 12 months in other ACGME accredited neurosurgical programs may be granted clinical neurosurgery credit that will count toward the required 54 months; otherwise credit is elective only. The ABNS may also grant elective credit for training in non-ACGME accredited U.S or foreign centers on an individual basis when undertaken with the advice and approval of the program director. Approval for training periods of less than three months will not ordinarily be granted since they are of questionable educational value.

Training devoted to neuroscience education, critical care or other disciplines related to neurosurgery may also be acquired as a fulltime resident in ACGME accredited training programs (such as general and orthopedic surgery) that are in the same institution as the resident’s neurosurgery program. This training does not need the board’s approval if it remains under the ultimate direction and control of the resident’s neurosurgery program director.

Upon petition from a resident’s program director, the board may grant elective credit for training done before entering an accredited neurosurgery program if the resident has substantially more than the prerequisite training in general surgery, neurology or the basic neurological sciences at acceptable institutions. If the training results in a PhD in a neuroscience field, one year of elective credit will be given. Neurosurgery residency training completed abroad, particularly if it concludes with certification in that country, may also merit retroactive elective credit if the ABNS is petitioned by the program director. Credit is not automatic. It must be requested by the program director and approved in writing by the board.

Training by preceptorship does not fulfill these requirements. Additionally, no credit is given for training done by fellows or other individuals not enrolled as residents tracking toward certification in ACGME accredited neurosurgery programs. Resident training cannot be obtained during repeated short intervals in a number of institutions. These provisions do not alter the basic minimum requirements.

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