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Zambia Global Neurology Rotation

The neurology resident Zambia elective at Northwestern University was established by Igor Koralnik, MD, Professor of Neurology and division chief of Neuro-Infectious Disease and Global Neurology. Each year, up to two neurology residents receive a stipend to travel to Lusaka, Zambia, for a one-month elective. During this elective, they are fully integrated into the Zambian health system, see inpatient neurology consults, work in outpatient clinics, help in teaching Zambian neurology residents and medical students, and participate in research under the direct supervision of Drs. Omar Siddiqi of Harvard University and Deanna Saylor of Johns Hopkins at The University Teaching Hospital (UTH).

UTH is affiliated with the University of Zambia School of Medicine, the nation's first medical school. This 1,800-bed facility located in the nation's capital provides a diverse set of specialties to the citizens of Zambia, including Community Medicine, Internal Medicine (of which Neurology is a subspecialty), Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pathology, and Pediatrics.

Zambia is currently experiencing a significant deficit of neurologists, with a total of four neurologists in the country for a population of 17 million people.

There are currently five Zambian adult Neurology residents as part of the country's first training program. Northwestern residents will work closely with these trainees as part of the elective. In addition to caring for patients with a variety of diseases rarely seen in the U.S., Neurology residents have the opportunity to navigate a vastly different health system. During the month-long rotation, they will learn to treat patients in an environment with more limited access to imaging and medications.

For more information about this unique elective, please contact Dr. Koralnik at

Resident teaching rounds at UTH with Dr. Igor Koralnik

In-patient rounds at UTH with Dr. Saylor and Zambian Neurology residents and students

Resident Testimonials

 The Zambia Neurology Elective was a highlight of my 4 years of Neurology residency at Northwestern. It was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, both personally and professionally. This program is fully supported by our Neurology department and is a truly unique opportunity that our residency offers. Alongside the wide breadth of clinical experiences I had (I saw patients with nocardiosis and neurocysticercosis as well as severe presentations of stroke, ICH, and myasthenia gravis), living in the beautiful country of Zambia for a month was a unique and gratifying experience. I met an incredible mentor in Dr. Deanna Saylor, various inspiring colleagues, and the only physician practicing Sleep Medicine (my future subspecialty of Neurology) in Zambia. I would recommend this experience to all Neurology residents, without reservation, and I hope to return to Zambia in the future.


- Brian Wall (Class of 2024)

Spending a month in Zambia was an amazing experience. I saw many neurologic diagnoses that you would rarely ever see in the U.S., including neurologic sequelae of HIV, TB, and syphilis along with cases of pellagra, organic phosphate poisoning, rabies, and manganese toxicity. I learned to practice neurology in a low resource environment - this have me a deeper appreciation for the value of the neurologic exam as well as inspiration to pursue opportunities in low resource environments in my future career. The Zambian attendings and trainees are amazing colleagues with a unique repertoire of knowledge and experience that makes them incredible teachers. Many of them have also become lifelong mentors and friends for me. Finally, I had the opportunity to explore a truly incredible part of the world with amazing natural sites including an elephant orphanage, wildlife safari, and breathtaking hikes of Victoria Falls.


- Rebecca DiBiase (Class of 2023)

Jennifer AdrissiI worked at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka, Zambia, for four weeks in fall 2019 as part of the McGaw Global Health Scholars Program. It was an amazing experience! I worked in both the inpatient (admissions and wards) and outpatient clinic setting. I have had past global health experiences as a medical student, but having this dedicated global neurology experience near the end of residency gave me the opportunity to use skills and knowledge learned throughout my training in a resource-limited setting. I am amazed at the amount and diversity of neurologic pathology seen in that month. I learned so much from the patients, the neurology leadership at UTH (Drs. Deanna Saylor and Omar Siddiqi), and the UTH neurology residents. I am so grateful for these now-lifelong mentors and friends. I cannot wait to return during my fellowship training!  ​


- Jennifer Adrissi (Class of 2020)

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