OR & Clinical Observations

A highlight of the program is the opportunity to be mentored by our neurological surgeon/scientists and to observe operative procedures in the Harborview Medical Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and/or the UWMC Operating Rooms. Surgeries include a wide range of clinical issues, which share a laboratory partnership, including brain tumor resection with cortical mapping; epilepsy grid placement and foci resection; deep brain stimulation procedures; endovascular aneurysm surgery; complex craniofacial, endoscopic and congenital neurological surgery procedures. Students gain a lasting appreciation of how to create a compassionate, safe, and patient-first healthcare delivery environment.

Observing in the operating room is an educational and inspirational experience that provides students with first-hand OR experiences, including: preparation, teamwork, surgery and assessment of patient outcome. Student observation in the OR is a unique feature of this program. The experience of laboratory work, attending Grand Rounds, discussions in Resident Education Hour and Friday Faculty Lecture Series all come together at the point of care for the patient. These experiences underscore not only the intimate detail required to attain the best patient outcomes and the mechanisms and benefits of translational research but also puts a face on - and a human story to - the most important part of patient care: the patient and family. Students who observe neurological surgery are changed by the experience and have described it as “transformative”.

Students have the opportunity to spend at least two days observing in the OR. This may include following surgeons and residents through more than one operation per day, so the number may vary between one very long tumor resection or epilepsy case and multiple shorter spine procedures.

Students also have the opportunity to spend at least two days doing clinical rounds, led by clinical mentors Neurological Surgery faculty hospitalists Diane Wiseman, MD and Timothy Steege, MD.

Many of the department’s neurological surgeons have hosted students in their ORs and/or clinics over the past 4 years of NIH sponsorship, resulting in over 500 surgical procedures and clinical shadowing opportunities.

The program is now expanding neurosurgical services through the recent UW affiliation with Northwest Hospital (UWNW). This may afford students the opportunity to observe 2 additional UW faculty neurosurgeons in that setting during the course of the program.

As an innovation, the program also plans to offer shadowing options for students interested in following PAs and APPs at UWMC and HMC.