Neurosurgery Curriculum

The ACGME and Neurosurgery RRC have provided core curriculum and core competency standards that must be met at each stage of the neurosurgical residency. Each resident is expected to meet these standards on the appropriate schedule; faculty evaluations will include an assessment of each resident's progress toward these goals. In response to this ACGME requirement for competency in these areas, all residents are expected to participate in core competency training as defined by the program.

Neurosurgery Rotations

The clinical program is organized around four distinct services within the parent institution on the Penn State Hershey campus.

  • Three adult services:
    • Red service (with an emphasis on cerebrovascular, endovascular, skull base, and neuro-oncology)
    • Blue service (with an emphasis on spine, peripheral nerve, stereotactic and functional neurosurgery)
    • White service (ICU and neurocritical care with an emphasis on neurosurgical trauma)
  • Pediatric service

Structured rotations on each of these services provide both an exposure to a breadth of neurosurgical disease, while at the same time emphasizing the clinical caseload and expertise of the individual faculty members on each service.

Although structured, the Penn State Hershey Neurosurgery program is flexible enough to accommodate each trainee's individual educational needs and interests. Residents are advanced to higher levels of responsibility based upon performance evaluations. Elective rotations are scheduled throughout the program, and decisions on how to best use elective time is determined on an individual basis based upon the resident's interests and experience. Elective time may be spent either in the parent institution studying a subspecialty of neurosurgery or independent research (either clinical or basic science).

Residents are provided the opportunity to participate in a research activity during their residency, and time has been set aside during the rotations for this pursuit. The department has a wealth of internal research opportunities in basic, translational, and clinical research in all areas of neurosurgery. In addition, there are strong collaborations with researchers in other Penn State University departments both in the College of Medicine and the University as a whole.


  • 12 months neurosurgery intern year

PGY-2, PGY-3, PGY-4

Each year will encompass the following:

  • 2 months red service
  • 2 months white service
  • 2 months blue service
  • 2 months pediatric service
  • 2 months off-service time (neuroradiology, neuropathology, neurology, etc.)
  • 2 months elective time


  • 6 months red/white services
  • 6 months blue/pediatric services


  • Independent study –This year can be used for a focused clinical training/enfolded fellowship or for basic, translational, or clinical research. 


  • 12 months chief resident
    • 6 months red/white services
    • 6 months blue/pediatric/administrative

The bulk of the educational conferences are held on Fridays from 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The conference schedule is meant to expose residents to all disciplines of basic and clinical neuroscience. Participation in multidisciplinary conferences with other specialties within the institution contributes to a sound educational experience for the residents.

  • Click here for the Mandatory Conference Schedule
  • Click here for the Elective Conference Schedule

The program offers a wealth of research opportunities within the department and the institution. All residents are expected to participate in a research activity during their residency. Time has been set aside during the rotations for this purpose and residents are expected to use this time wisely to work with a faculty mentor within the department, within the institution, or outside of the institution with prior approval. Residents should be planning their research time during the year preceding their actual research year to make optimum use of their time in the laboratory. Residents should discuss their plans with the program director and the appropriate faculty members in advance, and obtain approval for their research project. The resident is responsible for contacting an appropriate faculty mentor and setting up a research program consistent with their area of interest and experience. At the completion the research time each resident is expected to present a manuscript, suitable for publication, on some aspect of his or her research activities.