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Medical Student Electives in Neurosurgery

The Johns Hopkins Department of Neurosurgery offers sub-internship and clinical elective opportunities to medical students.

On this page: How to Apply | Rotations | Conferences | What to Expect | Leadership

How to Apply

Application for a sub-internship in neurosurgery must be coordinated through the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Registrar's Office. All applications are processed through an online portal.

Visiting medical students can apply for an elective up to six months (and no less than six weeks) before the desired start date. The most popular months for sub-internships are June, July, August, and September. If you wish to rotate during these months, early application is strongly encouraged. All rotation blocks follow the JHMI Academic Calendar. International applicants from schools with which Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has a formal affiliation are welcome to apply for rotations during the months of October through April.

Learn more about the visiting medical student program.

Once you decide to apply, please email Colleen Hickson, Department of Neurosurgery Medical Training Programs Administrator, at with the following information:

  • Your CV
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Preferred rotation timeframe

Completion of a visiting sub-internship is not required to match in our residency program. Many of our current residents did not complete a visiting elective rotation with us. Although we will give your application every consideration, completion of a visiting sub-internship does not automatically lead to a residency interview.


Our neurosurgical faculty perform more than 4,000 neurosurgical operations annually at two campuses:

  • There are three adult services at The Johns Hopkins Hospital: “Dandy,” “Cushing” and “Brem,” each comprised of attendings from the tumor, spine, vascular and functional services. Each of these services is led by a chief resident and a junior resident.
  • The pediatric neurosurgery service is based at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center on The Johns Hopkins Hospital campus.
  • Visiting medical students may also rotate at The Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus located two miles from The Johns Hopkins Hospital. There is a convenient shuttle between the two campuses.

Rotations are typically four weeks long (each week spent on a different service) to ensure students receive an optimal neurosurgical experience. Visiting medical students participate in conferences, rounds, operating rooms, and outpatient clinics as part of each service.

Rotation Goals

  • Cerebrovascular Surgery: Demonstrate an understanding of the anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology and presentation of cerebrovascular diseases, including ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, and other diseases and malformations of intracranial, extracranial, and spinal vasculature.
  • Neurosurgical Oncology: Demonstrate an understanding of the anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and presentation of tumor-related diseases of the cranium.
  • Pediatric Neurosurgery: Demonstrate an understanding of the anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and presentation of diseases in children which a neurosurgeon may be called upon to diagnose and treat.
  • Spinal Surgery: Demonstrate an understanding of the anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and presentation of disorders of the spine, its connecting ligaments, the spinal cord, the cauda equina, and the spinal roots.

Neurosurgery Conferences

As a visiting medical student, you are invited to join the faculty and residents for daily teaching conferences, comprised of oral board prep, written board prep, spine, vascular and tumor.

  • Neurosurgery Grand Rounds: Thursdays at 7 a.m., Zayed 2117 and on Zoom
  • Neuro-Vascular Conference: Thursdays at 8:15 a.m., Currently on Zoom
  • Journal Club: One Wednesday per month, 5 p.m., Currently on Zoom
  • Multi-Disciplinary Clinical Conferences
    • Neuro-Oncology Conference (Adult)
    • Skull-Base Conference
    • Neuro-Oncology Conference (Pediatrics)
    • Pathology Conference
    • Neurosurgery/Neurocritical Care Case Conference

What to Expect

Students enrolled in U.S. medical schools must have an NPI number before beginning a rotation. Please apply for an NPI number if you do not have one. You do not need an NPI number at the time of application but you will need it to be approved for a rotation. Please provide your NPI number to the Medical Training Programs Coordinator as soon as you receive it.

On Your First Day

On your first day at Johns Hopkins, you will need to:

  1. Ensure all registration steps are completed, as outlined by the Registrar.
  2. Obtain a Johns Hopkins Identification Badge from the I.D. Office, Harvey/Nelson Building, Room 108.
  3. Report to Sheikh Zayed Tower, Room 6126 to meet with Colleen Hickson, Medical Training Programs Administrator for the Department of Neurosurgery to:
    • complete emergency contact information form
    • complete training and obtain access to the Neurosurgery scrubs machine
  4. Meet with Dr. Timothy Witham, Co-Director, Neurosurgery Residency Program

On Your Last Day

On the last day of your rotation, you will need to:

  1. Return all scrubs to the scrubs machine. Unreturned scrubs could impact availability for subsequent rotators and sub-interns. You will be charged a fee for the cost of replacement for scrubs checked out in your name that are not returned.
  2. Return your Hopkins ID badge to Colleen Hickson.
  3. Provide your evaluation form to Colleen Hickson, the Medical Training Programs Administrator.

Neurosurgery Education Leadership

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