Career Development

Our residency features an integrated career development curriculum, extending from the prelim year into Fellowship.

Career development is supported by tailored mentoring, educational sessions, elective opportunities, and a structured Capstone project. Residents pursue topics across a wide range of clinical and academic fields, including in Global Health and Health Equities, Medical Education, Research, Health Care Leadership and Quality Improvement.

Tailored Mentorship

Every neurology resident at the University of Pennsylvania benefits from faculty guidance through three different mechanisms. At the start of your Prelim year you will receive a neurology faculty mentor, even if you pursue this stage of training outside of the University of Pennsylvania. Faculty mentors have a demonstrated commitment to advising trainees, and are matched with residents based upon shared career interests. Residents will often switch between mentors over the years as their career plans develop. Career guidance in specific academic areas is also provided during weekly career curriculum educational sessions. Finally, each resident year (PGY-1 through PGY-4) has a dedicated associate program director who focuses on career guidance at that time in training. Each resident meets with either the program director or their year associate program directors every 3 months to discuss progression through the residency and career interests.

Career curriculum: meetings and electives

Residents have the opportunity to develop their specific career interests during training. This is supported by a schedule of weekly educational meetings, and by an array of elective opportunities.

Career development meetings are held every other Monday morning at 8 AM and every other Monday at noon. Each meeting covers a topic related to different fields of academic neurology, and rotates between fields from week-to-week. Topics in the Research field might include how to review a scientific paper, or format an NIH bio-sketch, while Medical Education topics cover how to provide effective feedback, or give a video presentation. Noon-time meetings cover topics of general interest for a career in academic medicine, such as salary negotiation or tips on soliciting a strong letter of recommendation. These meetings are a mix of classroom-based didactic or discussion sessions, presentations by residents, and interactions with Penn faculty who have built a career in a particular field.

Residents may also choose from a range of career development electives. Each experience is 3 weeks or longer in duration, and provides an opportunity to develop experience and pursue independent work in a field of academic neurology.

Global health / health equity
Residents work with community and global partners to improve neurologic care and education. Selected residents spend elective time working with underserved communities in Philadelphia. Sites of care include the Social Health and Medical Service (SHAMS) Clinic, which serves patients without insurance in our West Philadelphia community, Puentes de Salud, which serves Philadelphia’s growing Latino immigrant population, and Community Volunteers in Medicine, which provides free, coordinated health-care to low-income individuals and families. Residents can also participate in a medical trip to Tanzania. All residents interested in Global health / health equity have the opportunity to attend monthly lectures focused on working in resource-limited settings.

Visit Dr. Rubenstein’s Tanzania blog for more details regarding the Tanzania FAME clinic.

Medical Education
The University of Pennsylvania Neurology Residency has created a formal curriculum to train the next generation of neurology educators. Participating residents have an opportunity to teach neurology to University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine preclinical students in the classroom and neuroanatomy lab, and clerkship students at the bedside. All residents interested in medical education have the opportunity to attend monthly interdisciplinary discussions focused on advances in medical education.

Patient Safety and Quality Improvement
The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has created an interdisciplinary track for physicians from all specialties committed to leading institutional quality improvement efforts and advocating for enhanced patient safety. Selected residents become members of a neurology unit-based clinical leadership team and complete a quality improvement project during their residency. All participating residents attend lectures focused on innovation in health care and quality improvement research.

Residents dedicated to a research career can apply to join the Research Track to receive additional elective time during residency. Selected residents receive up to 42 weeks of elective time during their PGY-3 and 4 years based on the scope of their research project. Residents in the Research Track can spend a minimum of 6 consecutive elective months completing their research project during the PGY-4 year if optimal for their project. Research Track residents are encouraged to submit their proposals for support through an R25 grant held by the Department of Neurology. R25 recipients can apply for 80% funding for 1-2 years of research fellowship at any institution that has received an R25 grant. Multiple T32 grants within the Department of Neurology are also available to support research fellowship opportunities for residency graduates. All residents interested in research have the opportunity to attend twice monthly lectures focused on research career development. Please see the dedicated Research Track page for additional details.

The Capstone project

All Penn neurology residents complete a “Capstone” project, which is a mentored, independent project that constitutes a substantive piece of scholarly work. While the scope of appropriate projects is broad, the Capstone project is aligned with the development of a career in academic neurology. Hypothesis driven research projects target basic, translational, or clinical questions in neurobiology and neurology. For some residents, the Capstone project is centered on a quality improvement or education project, or seeks to improve access to care for underserved domestic or global populations. In these instances, the project is still focused by the measurement of a quantitative outcome that can be used to evaluate the success of the intervention. Some residents choose to contribute to previously established, multi-year projects. All residents present their work during a department-wide, academic retreat in the Spring of their PGY-4 year, and most residents report the results of their project in a journal publication.

A list of Capstone projects is available.