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 Memorial Hospital is an 894-bed hospital located in the heart of downtown Chicago. We serve as a quaternary referral center to our large network in the region, as well as our local population as the second-largest provider of charity care in Illinois. 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 clinical interests and academic pursuits. We additionally benefit from collaboration with world-class pediatric neurologists and physiatrists at Lurie Children’s Hospital and Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, RIC), respectively, both of which are located on Northwestern’s campus within steps of NMH.

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 ample 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 in any area of investigation. Residents are provided funding from the department to present scholarly work at the AAN national meeting, 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 course, 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 an entire dedicated month of time protected from clinical duties (with weekends off!) to learn how to interpret EMGs, sleep studies, and both pediatric and adult EEGs.

The 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, during which they may explore clinical interests and research. Elective options include neurology subspecialty clinics but also the opportunity to explore related fields including rehabilitation at the newly renovated and highly renowned Shirley Ryan Ability Lab. 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, health equity and advocacy, and global health that several of our residents are completing to 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 pediatric neurology, emergency medicine, neurosurgery, physical medicine/rehab and psychiatry. In addition, we have interdisciplinary rounds with dedicated social workers, highly trained nursing staff, and clinical pharmacists which enhance 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, in the last two years 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. We also have two new experiences that have been pioneered: an interventional neuroradiology elective as well as an exposure to teleneurology, which is quickly becoming an important part of neurological practice.

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. On top of that, Chicago is significantly more affordable than comparable cities, which results in a higher standard of living for our residents. 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 volleyball.

We are very happy to be at Northwestern for our neurology training (in fact, both of us are staying for our fellowships, as well!). We hope you choose to come visit soon!

-Isaac and Margaret


Isaac J. Bourgeois, MD
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Undergraduate: Brigham Young University
Medical School: University of Illinois
Career Plans: Neurocritical Care


Margaret Yu, MD
Hometown: Lincoln Park, Chicago
Undergraduate: Northwestern University
Medical School: Northwestern University
Career Plans: Vascular Neurology Fellowship