University of Missouri School of Medicine MU Health School of Medicine

Adult Neurology Residency Program


Joel Shenker, MD, PhD
Residency Program Director
Dear prospective resident,

Thank you for letting me tell you about the University of Missouri Department of Neurology Residency Program.

First, let me say this:  Neurology is great.  It offers you fascinating phenomenology, a diverse patient population, an intellectually challenging knowledge base, a unique skill set for clinical evaluation, and an exploding armamentarium of treatment options. Even as our health care delivery system faces unprecedented changes, a good clinical neurologist has never been more needed.

And, there has never been a better time to come here for your neurology education. Our chairman, Dr. Pradeep Sahota, has transformed our Department in recent years, marshaling an explosion of growth and productivity that has seen our faculty and out resident core surge in numbers and breadth. We have a clinically active and scholarly productive faculty spanning virtually every neurologic subspecialty.  For our residency, we have built an organized curriculum of rotations, didactic sessions, conferences, and research opportunities.  Perhaps more important, we emphasize a supportive, collegial, and family-feeling atmosphere. 

Starting in 2013, we accept 4 residents each year to our program.  We have a categorical residency program.  This means that you automatically get your first postgraduate year (PGY1) in internal medicine here. What that means for you is continuity across your residency training, and less time, money, and stress interviewing and matching for two programs.

The second postgraduate year (PGY2) is dominated by rotations on the University of Missouri inpatient service. The team on this rotation consists of you and other junior residents, a senior neurology resident, and an attending neurologist.  Other rotations include an EEG rotation, and the Harry S. Truman Veteran’s Administration Medical Center inpatient and outpatient services.  Your weekly continuity neurology outpatient clinic starts as a PGY2, and continues for three years. These experiences give you a variety of both common and rare/complex diseases, and build your foundation for basic neurologic diagnosis and management.

In the third postgraduate year (PGY3) you will spend time as the resident who runs the inpatient stroke service.  This is a new and highly active and interventional service that manages acute and subacute strokes of all kinds, often in an intensive care setting. On that service, you work one on one with a dedicated stroke neurologist, and you get to act in a much more autonomous fashion.  Also in the PGY3 year, you supervise the University of Missouri inpatient service as part of the night and weekend call pool. The rest of the year includes separate blocks of time in electromyography, electroencephalography, neuropathology, neurosurgery, rehabilitation, research, and child neurology. This year gives you greater responsibility for patient management, still with close supervision.

You get to serve as the senior resident in charge of the University of Missouri inpatient service in the fourth postgraduate year (PGY4).  But, for most of this year, you rotate through subspecialty clinic rotations or neurologic research. This year is designed for you to round out training with more detail in neurologic subspecialties, working one-on-one with a specialist in fields such as cognitive-behavioral neurology, epilepsy, movement disorders, stroke, sleep neurology, neuromuscular, or headache.  Also, acting as senior resident on the University of Missouri inpatient service allows you to grow and prepare for a lifetime of independent thought and decision-making.

Throughout the residency there are regular weekly conferences to include a variety of topics:  neurology-neurosurgery grand rounds, a case presentation conference, neuroanatomy, Program Director’s conference, Chief Resident’s conference, research methods, neurology boards review.  A journal club meets at my house one evening each quarter.  Each resident has his or her own separate desk and storage area in a dedicated residents’ office in the department offices, where we also have a conference room, a library, and full departmental staff and resources.  Residents have on-line access to an extensive array of products including UpToDate, our electronic medical record system, a clinical imaging system, and the University’s extensive library system.  All our residents get an annual book fund, membership in the American Academy of Neurology, a subscription to the Continuum journal series, and a stipend to attend a national neurology meeting during their PGY3 or PGY4 year.

Our graduates go on to attend competitive fellowships at numerous institutions of their choosing, including our own expanded sleep medicine fellowship program.  Our graduates have had a 100% neurology boards pass rate.  Our graduates have chosen careers in clinical practice as well as academics. 

A huge selling point of our program is living in Columbia.  I love it here. Life in a college town affords many excellent options not usually present in a smaller town, but in an affordable, friendly, easy to use community. The University of Missouri is a major institution that offers diversions such as plays, dance, music, participatory and spectator athletics.  The University draws faculty and students from all over the world, and so the city (population about 100,000) is culturally diverse place, with several museums, many denominations of religious worship, a variety of great restaurants, excellent schools, high quality stores and shops, and musical venues of all types. Columbia's Cosmo Park is home to soccer and baseball fields, a professionally designed mountain bike course, and a skateboard park. If you want more urban offerings, St. Louis and Kansas City are an easy drive away, without having to live in a more crowded city 24/7.  In and around Columbia are many nice trails for running, biking and hiking that crisscross streams and pass through forests. There are also lakes and ponds for boating, swimming and fishing, many caves for exploration, and national forests for camping and backpacking.  America’s largest river system, the Missouri river, flows a few miles away, flanked along its entire course from Kansas City to St. Louis by the Katy trail.  The Katy trail is neat; once a railroad, it was renovated into a snaking well-serviced state-wide park with gravel-topped biking and running trails than transecting Missouri, with access points throughout Columbia.

When you join us for your neurology residency training, please know that it is personal to me that you do well, and that you are happy.  My priority is to help you become a solid clinical neurologist, and feel good about it.  I intend to see to it that you leave here well prepared to take on the career you seek as a neurologist. You will not find a better place, or a better way, to get started.

Joel Shenker, MD
, PhD

Residency Program Director

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