Info for Medical Students

Department faculty participate in teaching clinical neuroscience and neuroanatomy to first- and second-year medical students. Several Pitt medical students spend elective time doing clinical research with faculty members from various centers in the department. During their surgery core clerkship, third-year medical students may elect to take a two-week introductory subspecialty experience in neurosurgery.

Selective fourth-year medical students at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as visiting medical students from other schools, may elect to take a four-week clinical subinternship on the neurosurgery services at UPMC, during which they participate in all phases of the training program as well as in supervised patient care services. Typically, each four-week rotation includes experience on cranial, spinal, and pediatric neurosurgery.

Visiting Medical Students

The Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh offers a clinical elective that is open to enrolled fourth-year medical students in good academic standing at any U.S. medical school. 

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s visiting student program is accepting applications through the Visiting Student Learning Opportunities (VSLO) program. Students who have completed their core clinical training and will be in the fourth year of medical education at their LCME- or AOA- accredited home institution in North America may apply for an elective experience at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine through the VSLO. Students can begin submitting their elective requests on or after March 13. Students will be notified of decisions on elective requests beginning in mid May.

If you have any questions, please contact us at Due to the high volume of applicants, we request that you do not phone our office. We can most efficiently route your questions and assist you via email. Thank you.

Additionally, please send your CV directly to Melissa Lukehart at


One-month clerkships offered to senior medical students from other medical schools attract 10-20 students each year. In their senior year selective students may participate in ongoing research projects in the Department of Neurological Surgery under the supervision of an advisor. This experience trains students in basic or clinical neurosurgical research techniques and procedures and offers in-depth education in basic neurosciences. Other medical students seek a more formal and longitudinal exposure to neurosurgical investigation, and complete an approved scholarly project. Pitt medical students often use this educational opportunity as the base for their required graduation scholarly project.

Pitt Med Neurosurgery Interest Group

The Neurosurgery Interest Group (NSIG) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is devoted to fostering an interest in the exciting field of neurological surgery. The group connects medical students to key resources in the Department of Neurological Surgery and provides opportunities to shadow, conduct cutting-edge research, and network with the department. Mentoring from several senior residents in our program helps to stimulate interest in the field.

Under the direction of senior residents and participating faculty, the department offers focused lectures and demonstrations on neurosurgical topics to Pitt medical students. The goal is to provide a background of the current advances in neurosurgery to prospective students interested in a neurosurgical career. 

If you have any questions, please contact Melissa Lukehart at 412-647-6777.

Neurosurgery Investigative Group

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Three Rivers Curriculum affords students the opportunity to dedicate a “Flex Week” to research, shadowing, and professional development. In light of this new curriculum model, medical student Regan Shanahan and PGY-7 resident Roberta Sefcik, MD, MSCR, designed the Neurosurgery Investigative Group to introduce students to clinical research in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery and to guide them through a semi-structured research project.
The goals of “Flex Week” include:

  1. Enhance research and literature review skills through HSLS classes.
  2. Complete preliminary data collection for assigned sub-project.
  3. Foster learning and collaboration in neurosurgery with classmates.

 “Flex Week” offers students protected time to work through the beginning stages of a clinical research project under the direction of peer and resident mentorship. Students move forward after the “Flex Week” to finish data collection, execute data analysis and eventually, prepare an abstract/manuscript. “Flex Week” students learn more about the field of neurosurgery, build vertical connections with others interested in the field, and refine clinical research skills.
Students are assigned a clinical research data collection project and are introduced to the electronic medical record system (Powerchart, EPIC) and RedCap. In partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System, students attend Painless PubMed, Basic EndNote, and Where Should I Publish? A Methodical Approach for Selecting Journals workshops to build foundational skills in clinical research.

For more information, please contact Nitin Agarwal, MD, at 412-647-3685.

Brain and Blade: The World of Neurosurgery

The University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery hosts a pre-clinical annual elective course for interested second-year medical students that seeks to provide the most comprehensive exposure to neurosurgery available at any medical school. The course, titled Brain and Blade: The World of Neurosurgery, consists of approximately 10 modules dedicated to exploring each subspecialty of neurosurgery. It runs from October through December of the academic calendar. [More information]