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Chief Resident AMA! (Neurology/Queen’s)


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Hey fellow premed101ers! 

I’ve been on the forums for ~7 years, and now that I’m the Chief Resident for Neurology @ Queen’s, I thought it would be nice to give back by doing an AMA style Q&A for everyone preparing for CaRMS. I’m happy to answer anything from broad questions about interviews/file review (without breaking any rules), neurology, Queen’s, down to important details like what kind of snacks we stock our resident room with :). I’ll do my best to answer as many questions as I can over the next 48 hours. I can’t promise to answer immediately because senioring Stroke Service is extremely fun, but also unpredictable!

Best of luck to everyone going through the process. It’s stressful, it’s time consuming, but it’s also rewarding.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Thanks for doing this. Current 2nd year medical student at an Alberta med school deciding on specialties. I love the brain. I’m deciding between neurology and neurosurgery at this point. Just wondering if you were ever between those two fields and how you made your decision? I love the OR and I’m much more interested in the surgical neuroanatomy than a lot of the bread and butter neurology. I’m just wondering at what point is interest alone to dive into neurosurgery.

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1 hour ago, user123456 said:

Thanks for doing this. Current 2nd year medical student at an Alberta med school deciding on specialties. I love the brain. I’m deciding between neurology and neurosurgery at this point. Just wondering if you were ever between those two fields and how you made your decision? I love the OR and I’m much more interested in the surgical neuroanatomy than a lot of the bread and butter neurology. I’m just wondering at what point is interest alone to dive into neurosurgery.

CLASSIC question. I had the same dillema. Before medicinal school I did a basic-science PhD that involved lots of animal neurosurgery (glad that's over). I thought neurosurgery was where I was headed. Then I rotated through. The people were amazing (nothing like the stereotypes you hear). The OR was cool, but not cool enough for me. I found that I liked the parts before and after the OR more than the OR itself.

When I decide against surgery, my biggest concern was that I wouldn't get any fast-paced action in neurology. Then I rotated through stroke. Boy was I wrong!

So in neurology I found the parts of neurosurgery that I liked the most, without the parts that I wasn't interested in, and the freedom to switch between action packed high-paced work and more relaxed clinical work prn.

I hope that helps. But that's just my experience. In your case it sounds like the OR floats your boat, and that should influence your decision.

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9 minutes ago, Chief-Neuro said:

CLASSIC question. I had the same dillema. Before medicinal school I did a basic-science PhD that involved lots of animal neurosurgery (glad that's over). I thought neurosurgery was where I was headed. Then I rotated through. The people were amazing (nothing like the stereotypes you hear). The OR was cool, but not cool enough for me. I found that I liked the parts before and after the OR more than the OR itself.

When I decide against surgery, my biggest concern was that I wouldn't get any fast-paced action in neurology. Then I rotated through stroke. Boy was I wrong!

So in neurology I found the parts of neurosurgery that I liked the most, without the parts that I wasn't interested in, and the freedom to switch between action packed high-paced work and more relaxed clinical work prn.

I hope that helps. But that's just my experience. In your case it sounds like the OR floats your boat, and that should influence your decision.

Thank you for sharing this! Regarding stroke, how is your time broken down in terms of what you're doing day-to-day? Is it possible to do both neurocritical care AND endovascular work with a neurology residency?

It seems a lot of treatments are headed endovascular and if it scratches that itch for me I think it makes more sense to go down that path. 

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51 minutes ago, Chief-Neuro said:

CLASSIC question. I had the same dillema. Before medicinal school I did a basic-science PhD that involved lots of animal neurosurgery (glad that's over). I thought neurosurgery was where I was headed. Then I rotated through. The people were amazing (nothing like the stereotypes you hear). The OR was cool, but not cool enough for me. I found that I liked the parts before and after the OR more than the OR itself.

When I decide against surgery, my biggest concern was that I wouldn't get any fast-paced action in neurology. Then I rotated through stroke. Boy was I wrong!

So in neurology I found the parts of neurosurgery that I liked the most, without the parts that I wasn't interested in, and the freedom to switch between action packed high-paced work and more relaxed clinical work prn.

I hope that helps. But that's just my experience. In your case it sounds like the OR floats your boat, and that should influence your decision.

Since you did a PhD in animal neurosurgery, did you feel like you have no other choice but doing your residency in neurosurgery or neurology so to be able to not dismiss the experience you gained during your PhD? I have a MSc in Medical Genetics and I don't want to even think about doing any specialty other than Medical Genetics or Medical Oncology so that my previous knowledge and experiences not go wasted totally, especially since I don't want to kiss doing research good bye and want to be involved in research too during med school and after it. Is it a common struggle in people with a graduate degree or am I on the wrong track (sunken cost fallacy I guess)? Disclaimer, I am a pre-med so my question might be too off :) 

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4 hours ago, user123456 said:

Thank you for sharing this! Regarding stroke, how is your time broken down in terms of what you're doing day-to-day? Is it possible to do both neurocritical care AND endovascular work with a neurology residency?

It seems a lot of treatments are headed endovascular and if it scratches that itch for me I think it makes more sense to go down that path. 

Yes you can do both, but you’ll need to be at a centre that has dedicated neuro-critical, and you won’t be either NCC or EVTs until later in your residency.

Stroke is over-represented in almost all training programs. You don’t have to worry about stroke training unless you’re in a place with a lot of fellows. Queen’s is one of the programs that has no stroke fellows (yet...maybe one in the pipeline), so resident get good at running stroke codes almost independently very early on.

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3 hours ago, neurologist19 said:

Since you did a PhD in animal neurosurgery, did you feel like you have no other choice but doing your residency in neurosurgery or neurology so to be able to not dismiss the experience you gained during your PhD? I have a MSc in Medical Genetics and I don't want to even think about doing any specialty other than Medical Genetics or Medical Oncology so that my previous knowledge and experiences not go wasted totally, especially since I don't want to kiss doing research good bye and want to be involved in research too during med school and after it. Is it a common struggle in people with a graduate degree or am I on the wrong track (sunken cost fallacy I guess)? Disclaimer, I am a pre-med so my question might be too off :) 

You nailed it. It’s very common with graduate students. Worse for PhDs than Masters. Personally. I loved family, obs/gyn, and even ophtho. Ophtho was one I explored thoroughly several times, but in the end I turned away because of my love of the brain. My advice would be NOT to get stuck in that trap. The second-guessing almost never ends. Grass is always greener on the other side. I would say I was still unsure of my specialty until 1.5 years into my residency. Only recently have I decided that this was indeed the best path for me (although I might be biased :P). A big part of that is my residency program though, the people I work with and the lifestyle of the city I’m in make it easy to feel happy with my decision :).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank to everyone who came out to the Q&A, the social, and interviews!

It was great meeting everyone. This year's cohort is super strong, and I'm sure you'll all do well!

Best of luck, and we'll see some of you soon ;).

 

Edit: officially closing the AMA, though I may check back once in a while in case there are anymore questions.

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