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Educational and research opportunities for students

Whether you know without a doubt that you will be pursuing further training within neurosurgery or whether you are simply interested in learning more about the field, we invite you to spend time with us. Here is a guide to the educational and research opportunities available:

From all of us at AHN Department of Neurosurgery, we thank you once again for your interest in our department. We look forward to being a part of your neurosurgical experience.


AHN Affiliated Medical Student Neurosurgical Opportunities Students in their 1st–4th years

Medical students affiliated with Drexel University College of Medicine,  Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine, as well as visiting students from outside institutions [See Visiting Medical Student Neurosurgical Opportunities and Courses] are welcome to visit our department to learn more about the field of neurosurgery. The following opportunities are available:

  • Clinical and/or operative shadowing experiences
  • Mentor-sponsored research projects
  • Summer research opportunities

Please contact Deborah Musico (deborah.musico@ahn.org) for more information.

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AHN Affiliated Medical Student neurosurgical courses

  • Drexel University College of Medicine Students
  • Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine Students

4th Year Neurosurgical Sub-Internship. Click here for more information.

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Visiting Medical Student neurosurgical opportunities and courses

Opportunities
Medical students from any institution are welcome to visit our department to learn more about the field of neurosurgery. We offer the following educational experiences that can be individualized to suit your interests and needs during any level of your medical student training. The following opportunities are available:

  • Clinical and/or operative shadowing experiences
  • Mentor-sponsored research projects
  • Summer research opportunities

Please contact Deborah Musico (deborah.musico@ahn.org) for more information.

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Medical student information

Lodging
Students may stay in dormitory housing at the West Penn Hospital School of Nursing based on availability. Depending on space available, room sharing may also be an option. Please contact Jeff Reed for further information.

Neurosurgical websites 
Please see the following neurosurgical websites you may find helpful:

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Medical student curriculum

The neurosurgical curriculum for medical students is based on the curriculum recommended by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons

General skills topics
The neurological examination

  • Evaluate patient’s mental status and speech.
  • Examine the cranial nerves.
  • Examine central and peripheral sensory function.
  • Examine motor function.
  • Examine cranial and peripheral reflexes.
  • Examine cerebellar function and gait.

Fundamentals of neuro-imaging

  • Appreciate normal spine and cranial anatomy.
  • Recognize spine fractures and dislocations.
  • Differentiate on computerized images between blood, air, fat, CSF, and bone.
  • Recognize specific disease entities listed below such as epidural, subdural, intracranial hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, brain tumors, and hydrocephalus.

Intracranial hypertension

  • Understand the pathophysiology of elevated intracranial pressure and cerebral perfusion, plus the influence of blood pressure, blood gases, and fluid and electrolyte balance.
  • Recognize the clinical manifestations of acute brain herniation including the Cushing reflex, midbrain effects, and vital signs.
  • Understand the impact of focal mass lesions and structural shifts and their consequences.

Intracranial disease topics
Diagnosis and management of head trauma

  • Understand and assign the Glasgow Coma Score.
  • Recognize the presentation of brain herniation syndromes in the setting of trauma.
  • Initiate management of elevated intracranial pressure in head trauma.
  • Recognize and initiate management of concussion, brain contusion and diffuse axonal injury.
  • Recognize and initiate management of acute subdural and epidural hematoma, including surgical indications.
  • Recognize and initiate management of penetrating trauma including gunshot wounds.
  • Recognize and understand the principles of management of open, closed, and basilar skull fractures, including cerebrospinal fluid leak, and chronic subdural hematoma (in children and adults).

Diagnosis and management of brain tumor and abscess

  • Know the relative incidence and location of the major types of primary and secondary brain tumors.
  • Understand the general clinical manifestations (focal deficit, edema, mass effect, and seizures) of brain tumors.
  • Recognize specific syndromes: extra-axial (cerebellopontine, pituitary, intraventricular) and intra-axial brain tumor presentation.
  • Recognize difference in supratentorial verses infratentorial pathology.
  • Review the diagnostic tools that are currently used for evaluation (laboratory tests, radiological studies, pathology tests and assays).
  • Understand broad treatment strategies (surgery, radiosurgery, radiation, and chemotherapy) in the treatment of tumors.
  • Recognize the clinical manifestations of abscess and focal infections due to local spread, hematogenous disease associated with immune deficiency, and how they differ from the mimic tumors.
  • Understand the general principles in the treatment of abscess and focal intracranial infections.

Diagnosis and management of headaches

  • Know the major causes of intracranial hemorrhage: vasculopathy in the aged (hypertension and amyloidosis), aneurysm, vascular malformation, tumor and coagulopathy.
  • Recognize the symptoms and signs of subarachnoid, cerebral, and cerebellar hemorrhage.
  • Apply diagnostic tools in evaluation of acute headache (CT and MRI, role and contraindications to lumbar puncture).
  • Understand the natural history and broad treatment strategies (surgery, radiosurgery, interventional radiology) of intracranial aneurysms, vascular malformations, and vasospasm.
  • Differentiate the symptomatology of migraine, cluster, tension headache, and sinusitis headache.

Diagnosis and management of ischemic cerebrovascular disease

  • Recognize the symptoms and signs of anterior and posterior circulation ischemia emphasizing carotid disease and contrasting it with hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Differentiate among the types of ischemic stroke: embolic, hemodynamic, lacunar.
  • Categorize etiologic factors of brain ischemia including atherosclerosis, cardiac disease, arterial dissection, fibromuscular dysplasia, vasculitis, venous thrombosis, and hematologic disease.
  • Understand the treatment options in ischemic disease and their indications, including medical management, risk factor modification, and surgical therapy.
  • Diagnose and monitor carotid occlusive disease using noninvasive methods and understand indications for angiography and carotid endarterectomy.

Spinal disease
Diagnosis and management of spinal cord injury

  • The emergency room diagnosis and interpretation of radiologic studies in spinal trauma.
  • Initiate acute management of spinal cord injury including immobilization, steroids, and systemic measures.
  • Understand the definition and subsequent management principles of the unstable spine.
  • Understand management principles in spinal cord injury including indications for decompressive surgery and treatment of the medical complications associated with cord injury (skin, bladder, bowel movement, respiratory).

Diagnosis and management of nontraumatic neck and back problems

  • Diagnose and understand the natural history and management principles of whiplash and soft tissue injury.
  • Recognize the broad categories of spinal pain and radiculopathy:
    • The signs and symptoms (including cauda equina syndrome).
    • Their common causes, their diagnosis and their management (cervical and lumbar disc herniation, osteoarthritic disease, spondylolisthesis).
    • Their differential diagnosis and management (including metastatic disease and primary spinal tumors).
  • Recognize the broad categories of myelopathy:
    • The signs and symptoms (including comparison of acute and chronic spinal cord injury).
    • The common causes, their diagnosis and their management (cervical and lumbar disc herniation and osteoarthritic disease).
    • Differential diagnosis and management (including transverse myelopathy, metastatic disease, and primary spinal tumors).

Peripheral nerve disease
Diagnosis and management of peripheral nerve injury and entrapment

  • Diagnose traumatic nerve injury (laceration, stretch, and compression) and understand indications and general strategies of treatment.
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of common nerve entrapment (carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve entrapment, thoracic outlet syndrome, and meralgia paresthetica), their etiology, conservative management strategies, and indications for surgical intervention.

Other common neurosurgical problems
Diagnosis and management of hydrocephalus

  • Recognize the symptoms and signs of hydrocephalus in children.
  • Recognize the symptoms and signs of hydrocephalus in adults.
  • Understand common etiologies of hydrocephalus in children and adults, and differentiate between communicating and obstructive hydrocephalus.
  • Understand treatment strategies for hydrocephalus.

Diagnosis and management spinal dysraphism

  • Recognize common syndromes of spinal dysraphism, their neurologic manifestations, and broad principles of management.

Diagnosis and management of surgically treatable pain problems, movement disorders, and epilepsy

  • Recognize the features of trigeminal and glossopharyngeal neuralgia, causalgia, and cancer pain, indications for surgical referral and the spectrum of surgical therapeutic options.
  • Recognize movement disorders amenable to surgical intervention, including Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, spasticity, and hemifacial spasm, indications for surgical referral and the spectrum of surgical therapeutic options.
  • Understand the general classification of seizure disorders, definition of intractable epilepsy, and the broad categories of surgical intervention for epilepsy including invasive electrodes, resective and disconnective surgery.

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