McGill University - Neurosurgery - Montreal


Program Director

Dr. Jeffrey Atkinson


Coordinator, Neurosurgery Training Program

Luisa Birri

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McGill University is located in a large, fascinating, and multi-cultural city with a strong student population and good opportunities to live affordably in the downtown area. Transportation and dining options are plentiful. While maintaining the linguistic character of the province the city itself, is home to people from wide, and diverse ethnic and cultural origins. Montreal is close to a large range of opportunities for outdoor activities and transforms into a vibrant festival of music and culture in the summer months. The Montreal Neurological Institute and the Research Institutes of the McGill University Health Centre, the Jewish General Hospital, and McGill University as a whole are an endless source of research opportunities and collaborations in all areas of neuroscience. Research opportunities for those who are interested are plentiful. The program emphasizes teaching and has been careful to maintain a good ratio of residents to clinical opportunities. In most cases residents will rotate on one of our subspecialty clinical teaching units by themselves and operate with the faculty alone beginning early in residency. Operative experience should be consistent throughout training, with a good progression of responsibility. While clinical and call responsibilities can be quite demanding in neurosurgery it is our program’s goal to prioritize educational opportunities over service requirements. We have generally had a supportive group of residents who work together well as a unit and advocate well for their needs and for our program.

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The McGill University training program in neurosurgery is currently home to approximately 16 residents trained by 19 faculty representing all of the neurosurgical subspecialties. Like other programs in the province of Quebec, we are currently only accepting 1 CARMS resident every second year, though we also have a large number of residents training with us who originate from medical schools outside of North America.

Training is conducted at 4 hospital sites and while teaching and the hospital system are primarily in English, our faculty are largely bilingual, our patients are in majority francophone and clinical care and communication with patients does occur to a great extent in French.

Hospital training sites are as follows:

  1. Montreal Neurological Hospital — a specialty hospital within the McGill University Health Centre that houses only neurology and neurosurgery patients. There are four dedicated neurosurgery OR’s and a dedicated neuro-intensive care unit and acute

  2. receiving unit for emergencies including stroke. Neurosurgical subspecialties in peripheral nerve and pain, spine surgery, functional surgery and epilepsy, neuro-oncology, skull base, vascular and endovascular are focused at this institution. The MNH is also physically adjacent to the MNI (the research institute for neurology / neurosurgery) and an enormous spirit of research collaboration and opportunity exist here.

  3. Montreal General Hospital — part of the McGill University Health centre that contains our dedicated neuro-trauma unit. Acute spinal surgery training is also obtained at this site with a combined group of orthopaedic and neurosurgeons. ICU, General Surgery, and ER rotations at this site are also part of the Surgical Foundations curriculum.

  4. Montreal Children’s Hospital — a free standing children’s hospital located on the physical site of the new MUHC (McGill University Health Centre) site which opened in 2015. All types of paediatric neurosurgical care are seen here with 3 dedicated paediatric faculty. The site is also physically adjacent to the only Canadian Shriner’s Hospital for Children, which houses our spasticity and myelomeningocele clinics.

  5. Jewish General Hospital — this hospital is home to 3 neurosurgeons, 2 with specialty spine practices (including minimally invasive spinal surgery) and 1 surgeon with a specialized skull base practice. Surgical Foundations may send residents to this site for General Surgery or Vascular surgery rotations.

  6. Royal Victoria Hospital — part of the new MUHC hospital site with the Children’s this hospital will be used for training in the Surgical Foundations program including time in General Surgery, ICU, and vascular surgery. Residents will spend time at each clinical site over their training. Further, even with our transition to a CBD program, we have retained our commitment to offer residents 1 full year of research training, or other clinical electives if they so wish. We have had an excellent track record of graduating residents with MSc or PhD degrees by offering extension to the above research time for those who are so interested.


Do you need to speak French?

It is not a requirement to speak French to be a resident at McGill. However, the teaching faculty and the nursing staff, and other health care professionals are largely bilingual and comfortable providing teaching, and care in either language. Many patients presenting to our health care institutions will be comfortable speaking some English, a majority will prefer speaking French and as many as 50% may be only comfortable communicating in French. A desire to learn French is an asset.

Is research required?

Research is not required of our residents during their training. Our trainees come from a diverse variety of educational backgrounds and each has individual goals for their training that we try to respect. With that said, we view it as our training mission to produce neurosurgeons who will become leaders in academic neurosurgery practice wherever they may train, and in general that type of career bath will be well supported with a strong foundation in research.

What are you looking for in a resident at McGill?

We are interested in trainees who contribute positively to the dynamic of our resident group and our program. We value people who work hard, are self-motivated and wish to work in a specialized academic neurosurgical environment.