The goal of the neurosurgery residency training program at Massachusetts General Hospital is to train neurosurgeons who will become leaders in academic neurosurgery. The program exposes residents to a large number of cases spanning the entire range of neurosurgery thanks to Mass General’s standing as a referral center for the entire New England area. As training progresses, residents gain more responsibility in performing surgery and managing cases. In their last eight months in the program, trainees become full attending physicians with admitting and operating privileges and the ability to run their own services with the support of faculty.
Recently, the program has undergone a significant expansion with appointment of several new faculty members and the move into new operative suites and patient units, with a doubling of the department’s laboratory space.
Our program also has a strong emphasis on research. Residents spend two years in laboratories of their choice as part of the residency training, leading research projects in collaboration with faculty at Mass General, Harvard Medical School and other departments throughout Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Broad Institute and Dana Farber.
The Mass General Department of Neurosurgery is awarded several millions of dollars annually in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. The residents are frequent recipients of their own fellowships including awards from the NIH (NRSA, K08), NREF, ABTA, Parkinson's Disease Foundation, American Parkinson Disease Association, Burroughs Wellcome Fund and many others. Most recently, the department won a prestigious R25 training grant by the NIH to support residents in their research.
The Mass General Neurosurgery clinical faculty, most of whom have a significant research interest, are joined in the department by researchers specializing in basic neurobiology, neurophysiology and neuropathology.
The residency program is structured into six-week to four-month blocks. All residents proceed through the various rotations sequentially, allowing them to plan their time, studies and research efforts.
Residents match directly into neurosurgery to become acclimated with the fundamental skills associated with neurosurgery education. The program includes six months in General Surgery, a three-month rotation in neurology, six weeks in Neurosurgery and six weeks in neuro-critical care.
In their second year, residents rotate through three areas:
- Four months in endovascular surgery
- Four months in radiosurgery
- Four months assisting the recently graduated North Service Attending. Clinical responsibilities include Emergency Ward and ICU coverage and significant operative experience under the supervision of senior residents and staff
Third year residents rotate through three areas:
- Four months sharing clinical responsibilities with the East Senior Resident to care for patients on the East Team. The East Team includes staff members with interests in vascular and functional neurosurgery
- Four months at gaining additional experience in the clinical and surgical management of pediatric patients
- Four months working with the Spine Team
Years Four and Five
Years four and five are dedicated to research. Residents are encouraged to immerse themselves in one of the many excellent neuroscience labs. During the first research year, the residents take night call 1-2 times per week. The second year of research is free of any clinical responsibilities. Residents take the written portion of the neurosurgery boards.
In year six, residents assume a large role in the operative and clinical management of complex cases under the supervision of the staff neurosurgeons. This includes vascular problems such as aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations and occlusive cerebrovascular disease, as well as complex tumor and spine cases.
Sixth year trainees also organize call schedules and operating room assignments, and teach and supervise other residents.
- Four months as a senior of the pediatric and spine service, resident learns about the surgical management of complex spine and pediatric disorders
- Four months as Chief Resident of the East Neurosurgery Service, resident learns about the surgical management of complex vascular disorders and functional disorders such as epilepsy, movement disorders and trigeminal neuralgia
- Four months as Chief Resident of the West Neurosurgical Service, resident learns about the surgical management of complex brain and skull base tumors
In their final year, the South Chief Resident spends four months working closely with the Chief of Service, Dr. Robert Martuza. The clinical emphasis is on brain tumors and on the transsphenoidal approach to pituitary tumors. Residents are also trained on how to manage a busy academic practice.
Finally, residents are appointed full members of the neurosurgery staff, with their own offices and clinics and full admitting and operating privileges. Most graduates feel that this period is the highlight of the training because they are performing a large and varied number of major cases while still having the support of the other attending physicians for particularly unusual or challenging cases. Formal teaching rounds are held on a weekly basis and with the attending neurosurgeon of the week.
- Four months as the South Chief of Neurosurgery, resident learns about the surgical management of complex of skull base and pituitarty tumors
- Eight months North Attending manages a broad range of neurosurgical diseases
Robert L. Martuza, M.D., Chief, Neurosurgery Service
Chief, Neurosurgery Service and Director Stephen E. and Catherine Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology
Frederick George Barker, II, MD
Director Cranial Base Center; Neurosurgical Oncology
Lawrence Francis Borges, MD
Director, Neurosurgical Spine Center
William E. Butler, MD
Daniel P. Cahill, III, MD
Paul Hamilton Chapman, MD
Neurosurgical Director of the Proton Beam Radiosurgery Program
Jean-Valery Charles-Emile Coumans, MD
William T. Curry, Jr., MD
Director, Neurosurgical Oncology
Ann-Christine (Tina) Duhaime, MD
Director, Pediatric Neurosurgery; Director, Neurosurgical Trauma and Intensive Care
Emad Nader Eskandar, MD
Director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery; Director Neurosurgery Residency Program
Brian V. Nahed, MD
Neurosurgical Oncology; Spine Surgery
John H. Shin, MD
Brooke Swearingen, MD
Ziv Williams, MD
Peripheral Nerve Surgery Service; Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery
Welcome to Boston
Boston offers the best of a large, cosmopolitan city, coupled with a small-town neighborhood style of life. Virtually all attractions are within walking distance or are a short trip away as are several world-famous institutes of higher learning and numerous high-tech and bio-tech companies. This combination results in Boston being a vibrant and dynamic city in which to live. The Boston area has a tremendous wealth of cultural, educational, athletic, and recreational opportunities.
The Boston area is home to more than 50 colleges and universities, with a young, educated, and international population. The city center is surrounded by neighborhoods with unique styles and attractions. Some of the better-known areas where Mass General residents live include Harvard Square, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, South End, North End, and Coolidge Corner. A walking tour of Boston’s Freedom Trail is a great way to learn the history of the city which prides itself on being the seat of the American Revolution.
Arts and Entertainment
There are many dance clubs, live music venues, ethnic, and avant-garde restaurants catering to all tastes. Boston also has a rich cultural tradition and is home to the world-famous Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Ballet Company, and Boston Opera as well as the Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Science. Each year the Boston Pops concert along the Charles River marks the celebration of the Fourth of July.
Sports and Outdoor Recreation
The Boston area is home to four major league sports franchises - the Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, Red Sox and New England Patriots.
There are limitless opportunities for outdoor recreation throughout the seasons. Near the hospital, the Esplanade is a great location for jogging, bicycling, or sailing on the Charles River. During the summer months Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and other area beaches provide beautiful getaways. Ferries can take you to Provincetown from downtown Boston. The White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts have hundreds of areas for hiking, camping, and fishing. During the summer the Boston Symphony moves to its summer home of Tanglewood, west of the city in the Berkshires. The fall foliage in New England is spectacular and attracts millions of so-called leaf peepers annually. During the winter months skiing and snowboarding are available at dozens of resorts, all within a one-to-two hour drive.
The department is committed to recruiting a talented and diverse group of residents. All factors are taken into account with no one factor taking precedence. We are interested in recruiting residents who are willing to work as a part of team and are committed to academic neurosurgery. Grades, board scores, and research are important factors but we are as interested in a candidate’s future potential as we are in their previous accomplishments.
How to apply
Candidate should apply through ERAS.
Applications must be completed by November 1.
- Applicants must be graduates of medical schools accredited by the American Association of Medical Colleges.
- Applications must include three letters of reference (including at least one from a neurosurgeon) and USMLE step 1 scores. Include step 2 scores if available.
- Invitations to interview are mailed in early December.
- Interviews are conducted in January.
Medical students interested in a rotations in neurosurgery at Mass General should contact Harvard Medical School and Jaclyn Brogna (617-726-5143 or JBrogna@mgh.harvard.edu)
Call us: 617-726-5143