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Neurologic Surgery Residency (Minnesota)

Department and Faculty

Mayo Clinic neurologic surgeons in the operating room

The Department of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic is one of the largest in the United States. Each year, the entire spectrum of neurosurgical conditions and diseases is treated essentially at one site, which ensures an unparalleled training experience.

Many cases are straightforward neurosurgical problems, which include brain tumors, cerebral aneurysms and spinal disease. This allows neurosurgical residents to become skilled in the management of typical neurosurgical problems. However, many complex cases are nationally or internationally referred to Mayo neurologists and neurosurgeons for evaluation and treatment. These difficult cases often require a multidisciplinary team approach to patient care, which broadens the educational opportunities for residents.

Surgical volumes

The average neurosurgical caseload at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is approximately 4,600 major operations a year, including:

  • 860 operations for brain tumor
  • 175 operations for trauma
  • 325 operations for vascular diseases (aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation [AVM], carotid, bypass)
  • 175 transsphenoidal operations
  • 400 operations for functional disorders (epilepsy, movement, pain).
  • 325 peripheral nerve procedures
  • 150 endovascular procedures
  • 1,350 spinal procedures, including 140 for intraspinal tumor and 350 cases of complex spinal disease involving instrumentation
  • Average chief resident operative caseload is approximately 450 operations a year

The cumulative case volume at Mayo Clinic's campuses in Florida and Arizona available for training is approximately 3,500 cases.

Skills laboratories

Mayo Clinic neurosurgery residents have access to several state-of-the-art skills labs for refinement of their techniques outside the operating room. These include cadaveric labs with full endoscopic and microscopic support, a rat-based microvascular anastomosis lab, and a microsurgical dry lab within the resident work area at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus, our main teaching hospital.

Additionally, four formal courses on open skull base techniques, endoscopic skull base techniques, microvascular anastomoses and peripheral nerve surgery are completed by all residents prior to graduation, with further opportunities for formal instruction available to interested residents.


In addition to caring for patients in their clinical practices, Mayo Clinic's faculty members are committed to teaching and facilitating the resident's development as a neurosurgeon. Many of the department faculty have published and lectured extensively and are well-regarded for their specialty and subspecialty expertise. All residents have close and frequent contact with these individuals throughout the training experience.

Advisers and mentors

At the start of the PGY-2 or PGY-3 year, residents select or are assigned to neurosurgery faculty mentors. This relationship is established early in residency to encourage longitudinal development of a mentoring relationship, and to promise access to faculty members for advice throughout residency.

Mentors are expected to give close attention to the resident's goals, objectives and spectrum of operative experience throughout the training program. The mentor can also help the resident choose a research project, give guidance about post-residency career planning and serve as an advocate in post-training placement.

The chair is also intimately involved in the counseling and guiding of residents both during and after their tenures. Annual meetings are arranged between each resident and the chair to provide another mentoring perspective, individualize the resident's training program, and discuss options for advanced subspecialty training pertaining to career and professional aspirations.

Visiting professors

Many prominent neurosurgeons visit Mayo Clinic each year. They present their work at scheduled conferences and morning lectures and participate in hospital rounds. These visits are scheduled to include time for informal interaction between the visitor and residents.

From the director

James Van Gompel, M.D.Mayo Clinic was one of the earliest institutions to offer subspecialization in neurosurgery, beginning at the turn of the century with Charles H. Mayo, M.D., and Emil H. Beckman, M.D. In 1919, the Section of Neurologic Surgery was established, with Alfred W. Adson, M.D., as its first chair. Subsequently, Drs. Winchell (Wink) McK. Craig, J. Grafton Love, Collin S. MacCarty, Ross H. Miller, Thoralf M. Sundt Jr., David G. Piepgras, and Fredric B. Meyer followed as eminent chairmen.

Now under the leadership of Robert J. Spinner, M.D., the Department of Neurologic Surgery exists as one of the largest practices in North America, covering all subspecialties in neurosurgery each year with a staff of 18 neurosurgeons.

Mayo Clinic has long been a leader in education, and it exists as the largest graduate medical institution in the country. Given its unique position with multiple sites across the country and large practice volume, residents benefit from opportunities that are unavailable at any other institution. Further, education exists as one of Mayo Clinic's core values and is supported throughout the institution.

Therefore, we look forward to your visiting and hopefully receiving training as a resident of our fine program.

Jamie Van Gompel, M.D., FAANS
Neurologic Surgery Residency Program Director
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Otolaryngology