Department of  Neurosurgery
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Fourth-year medical students are encouraged to visit Washington University for an externship on the neurosurgical service. Externs will integrate into a neurosurgical service that consists of two chief residents, two senior-level residents, two junior-level residents, an intern and one to two third-year and fourth-year medical students.

Fourth-year students are expected to function at a high level, exhibiting their enthusiasm for neurosurgery. They will round each morning with the residents beginning at 6 a.m. After rounds on the wards and in the intensive care unit, externs are encouraged to spend their days in the operating room. They will scrub cases with senior-level and chief residents, assisting with opening and closing craniotomies and spinal procedures and observing the more critical portions of these procedures. Externs will also assist the interns and junior-level residents with patient care. It is expected that they will learn how to perform basic neurosurgical procedures such as lumbar punctures, ICP monitor placement and ventricular drain placement. In addition, the neurosurgical extern will have the opportunity to give a presentation to the neurosurgical residents and staff at a departmental conference to give him or her additional exposure to members of the department. A week spent on the pediatrics service at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is also strongly encouraged as a component of the fourth-year externship.

In addition to the academic and clinical experience, externs are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities with the neurosurgical residents including journal club, departmental functions, and social activities on the weekends. The rotation is best experienced over a four-week time period, but for fourth-year medical students with busy schedules, a two-week rotation can also be arranged.

Additionally, externs are eligible to participate in the medical school’s Visiting Elective Program, run by the Office of Diversity Programs. The goal of the Visiting Elective Program is to enhance the exposure of the Washington University Medical Center to students considering careers in academic medicine, while promoting cultural diversity on the medical school campus. Students who are members of groups underrepresented in medicine or are socioeconomically disadvantaged are strongly encouraged to apply to the program. Accepted students will be reimbursed up to $2,000 for expenses. Click here for additional information about the program, including the application form. 

Third Year Clerkship

Washington University 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.

For more information, contact:

Gretchen Blow
Department of Neurosurgery
Washington University School of Medicine
660 South Euclid, Box 8057
St. Louis, MO 63110

Medical Student Research Opportunities

Medical students who have completed one or two years of medical school in the United States or Canada and who wish to spend a summer working in a neurosurgical laboratory may apply for a special opportunity through the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).

Through the AANS Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation, up to twenty (20) fellowships in the amount of $2,500 are awarded each year to eligible medical students.

Learn more about the Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation (NREF) Medical Student Summer Research Fellowship Program