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 five distinct services within Penn State Health:

  • Four adult neurological services:
    • Red service (with an emphasis on cerebrovascular surgery, endovascular neurosurgery, skull base surgery, and neuro-oncology)
    • Blue service (with an emphasis on complex spine surgery, peripheral nerve surgery and stereotactic and functional neurosurgery)
    • White service (with an emphasis on neurocritical care and neurosurgical trauma)
    • Pinnacle Health Services (with an on emphasis on minimally invasive spine surgery)
  • Pediatric neurosurgical service

Structured rotations on each of these services provide training in all areas of neurosurgical care.

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 based upon the resident's interests and experience. Elective time may be spent studying a subspecialty of neurosurgery or research.

Residents are required 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 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 rest of the University.


  • 6 months Neurocritical care
  • 6 month general neurosurgery

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, clinical or research elective)
  • 2 months Pinnacle service


  • 6 months Penn State Hershey senior resident
  • 6 months Pinnacle senior resident


12 months chief resident

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


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

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 projects. The resident is responsible for contacting an appropriate faculty mentor and setting up a research program consistent with their area of interest and experience. Each resident is expected to create a manuscript for publication on basic, translational or clinical research each year from PGY 2-7.  Those residents who choose to do an enfolded fellowship during their independent study year are expected to make research a meaningful part of the fellowship experience.