Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

The Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology

Chief Residents’ Message

Welcome to the Northwestern Neurology Residency Program! We’re so glad you’re considering Northwestern, and we’d like to share the highlights of our program with you.

First and foremost, the top priority for the program is to provide a solid foundation in clinical neurology. Northwestern is a large, 894-bed hospital located in the heart of downtown Chicago with a large referral network in the surrounding area. This provides exposure to a truly diverse patient population and ensures a rich, well-rounded clinical experience. Northwestern has faculty focused in all sub-specialties of neurology, with 10 fellowship programs available. This ensures there are passionate clinicians and researchers available to pursue a wide range of interests and academic pursuits.

All residents complete scholarly projects including a research and a quality improvement project during the 3 years of training. A quality improvement curriculum is provided and there are great and easy opportunities to get involved early on in residency. All PGY-3s complete an Evidence-Based Medicine curriculum which also helps to provide us with the tools to be academically successful. Residents are also provided funding from the department to present scholarly work at the AAN, and many residents attend and present at various sub-specialty conferences throughout the year. We also have a strong didactic schedule with daily morning and noon conference, where lunch is provided daily. This curriculum consists of morning report Monday-Wednesday, Grand Rounds weekly, and a basic science curriculum. Each year we also have a 6-month weekly neuro-anatomy class which is a resident favorite. Noon conferences include a wide range of sub-specialty lectures, Morbidity and Mortality conferences, and journal club.  One of the most unique aspects of our program is a Clinical Neurophysiology course that occurs during early PGY-3 year. During this course, residents have one month of time protected from clinical duties to learn how to interpret EMGs, sleep studies, and both pediatric and adult EEGs.

The recent expansion of our residency program supports scheduling flexibility and has increased the amount of elective time available. Residents have 22-26 weeks of elective time, including 6 weeks of early elective time during PGY-2 year, in which to explore clinical interests and research. Elective options include neurology sub-specialty clinics but also the opportunity to explore related fields including rehabilitation at the newly renovated and highly renowned Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (formally the Rehab Institute of Chicago, RIC). Interested residents may choose to spend elective time in the Neurological Testing Center performing EMGs as well as EEG interpretation. Additionally, McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern offers certificate programs in bioethics, medical education, and global health that several of our residents are completing to further support our career goals.

While our clinical training is outstanding, the true strength of our program is in the highly collaborative and supportive training environment that makes coming to work each day enjoyable. We work closely with residents from emergency medicine, neurosurgery, rehab and psychiatry. In addition, we have interdisciplinary rounds with dedicated social workers, highly trained nursing staff, and clinical pharmacists which enhances our education. Our program leadership including our program directors, Dr. Bega and Dr. Bevan, and our chairman, Dr. Krainc, meet with us regularly to discuss the program and get resident feedback which drives change to the program curricula and structure. For example, last year we implemented a new 2-person night float system that was designed and voted upon by the residents. This change has made our program stronger, as it provides increased autonomy for senior residents and gives more support to junior residents.

Northwestern’s location in downtown Chicago is an important plus of the program. Chicago is a fantastic city with an abundance of musical, athletic, culinary and cultural activities to explore in our time off. Most residents live within walking distance of the hospital in Streeterville, River North, or the Loop neighborhoods. However, there are also residents who commute from surrounding neighborhoods as well. Around a quarter of residents tend to come from the Chicagoland area, with the remainder from all over the country. Our residency program attracts compassionate, dedicated and personable individuals; we enjoy spending time with each other both at work and after hours. We frequently get together for barbeques, trivia, holiday celebrations, book club and, for the more athletically-inclined, races and intramural volley ball.

Overall, we are so happy to be at Northwestern for our neurology training. We hope you choose to come visit soon!


Ornella Dubaz
Hometown: Riverside, Connecticut
Undergraduate: University of Michigan
Medical School: Temple University
Career Plans: Movement Disorders fellowship


Alexa King
Hometown: Apple Valley, Minnesota
Undergraduate: Colgate University
Medical School: University of Minnesota
Career Plans: Clinical Neurophysiology and Epilepsy fellowships