Message to interested medical students


The University of British Columbia has an outstanding neurosurgical residency program.

The parameters of excellence include:

  • Success at the Royal College graduating exam.
  • Job attainment upon completion of graduation.
  • Entrance into competitive Fellowships.
  • Graduating as an independent operating general neurosurgeon capable of managing a broad range of brain, spine and peripheral nerve pathology.
  • Robust sub-specialty experience.
  • Excellence in teaching
  • A clearly stated Academic curriculum.
  • Research opportunity and support.
  • Clinical service with a premium of education over service.
  • Connections with the broader international neurosurgical community.

When considering a residency program, all these characteristics should weigh into your decision.  The Neurosurgical Residency Program at UBC excels at all criteria- with a documented track record of graduating excellent clinical, technical and Academic neurosurgeons.


Highlights of the UBC program:


Royal College Exam Success

For the last 20 years, every graduating resident from UBC has passed the Royal College Neurosurgical Examination on their first sitting.  This is a testament to the resident training curriculum, conscientious exam preparation, and a consultant staff well entrenched with the Royal College.


Job attainment

The prevalent topic in Canadian Neurosurgery is the job market.  While the ‘prognosis’ is the source of great debate- the crucial fact to consider is the actual track record of job attainment by graduates of a given program.  For over 20 years, every resident graduating from UBC has found full-time employment as a practicing neurosurgeon, both academic and community.

There are multiple factors behind this robust success rate, including our strength in graduating residents who have excellent technical skills, preparation in Fellowship applications and extensive/far-reaching connections with the Neurosurgical community at large.  We engage in employment considerations for all of our residents well before graduation- and are committed well after to support ideal neurosurgical employment.

You can view the full list of our alumni  with their current positions here.



Due to similar support in attaining jobs, our graduates have all achieved great success in securing Fellowships.  These have clinical as well as research/academic post-graduate training opportunities.  Importantly none of these Fellowships have been ‘time-killers’, filling a void while searching for employment.  All Fellowships have been directly related to the subsequent neurosurgical position.  We carefully groom residents towards their eventual professional locale, both Academic and community.  In the current competitive environment it is important to note that community positions often also demand an aspect of sub-specialty training and that many ‘community’ jobs have a clinical appointment with the local Academic Center. Read more about our fellowship training.


Clinical Activity

It’s a simple fact that the education of a neurosurgical trainee is directly related to the robustness of the clinical activities of the Division.  It is on this basis that all of our residents receive superb clinical and especially technical (operative) experience.   Very early in training, residents begin not only first assisting on all cases, but also performing neurosurgical procedures.  Our program has external Fellows restricted to Functional/DBS, Spine and Pediatrics- and they are carefully selected to ensure the UBC residents have educational priority.  Through this construct we have avoided pitfalls of other programs, which rely heavily on external trainees.

All sub-specialties in neurosurgery are performed in the UBC program- including epilepsy, DBS, peripheral nerve, radiosurgery, complex spine, endovascular and advanced skull base/oncology and an independent Pediatric neurosurgical service. Vancouver is British Columbia’s sole quaternary referral centre. Our residents are exposed to British Columbia’s most complex vascular, skull base, oncology and spine cases.

Any medical student who has taken an elective with UBC neurosurgery is well aware of the breadth and activity of our clinical practice.  We are careful to maintain an appropriate and healthy balance between education/service.  To this end we have 2 nurse practitioners to support and aide the everyday working chores in running a neurosurgical service.  They perform like middle/senior residents in terms of ward activity- including management of the chronic patient, discharge planning/dictations and family engagement.


Academic Program

While we feel that graduating from UBC as an excellent technical surgeon is a given, we are extremely mindful of the need for a transparent Academic curriculum.  Working carefully with the house-staff, we have build a robust curriculum that is ensured to cover all aspects/topics in neurosurgery- going beyond the basic Royal College Standards of training.  The root of our curriculum is our Academic day, which delivers the curriculum in a variety of mediums, including staff didactics, resident run seminars, guest/visiting neurosurgeons (4-8/year), simulation sessions and enhanced M&M rounds.

Each resident is given a generous annual stipend to support travel and attendance in a wide variety of meetings/conferences.  External electives have been creatively attained, including visits to Vietnam and Paris during senior resident years.  Our program has very tight ties to the community programs in Victoria and North Vancouver.  Rotations through these sites are crucial to basic training as well as gaining familiarly and contact with this area of the profession.  UBC has renowned neurosurgeons in virtually every sub-specialty of neurosurgery- including spine, functional, vascular and oncology.  Our staff organizes and speaks at international conferences in these sub-specialty areas.

Research is a mandate of the Division.   The Faculty are well entrenched in research and innovation.  We encourage and arrange cross-pollination with research involving both basic scientists and the technology/industry sector.  The Division has 2.5 research co-coordinators dedicated to support the neurosurgical residents.   This allows the residents to focus on the research ideas and development, and less the administrative/ ethics bureaucracy.  Our annual Resident Research day showcases resident research activity, moderated by a high profile visiting professor.  Our Resident Research Director, a UBC grad, completed a spine Fellowship as well as a Clinical-Epidemiology degree from Harvard.

While a post-graduate Masters or PhD is not a pre-requisite at UBC, our program flexibility has proven to allow this opportunity for those who cultivate this interest.  UBC has a Clinician Investigator Program to specifically facilitate the resident who seeks extra years of research training.

Read more about our research activities.



The UBC Division is comprised of 7 purely cranial surgeons, 3 purely spine surgeons, 3 pediatric surgeons and several associate members across the province.  The Division is tight knit and works extremely well, collaborating and sharing cases.  The relationship with the residents is very tight- with a positive learning environment on the wards, in the lecture theatre and the operating room.  The Faculty has international, and especially Canadian wide, engagement- with high profile positions on the Royal College Specialty Committee, Royal College Exam Committee, Canadian Neurosurgical Society, and the Canadian Spine Society.  These connections ensures that the residency program is always at the forefront of learning as well as providing contacts throughout the world in terms of electives, research collaboration, Fellowships and jobs.

In Summary

Choosing the right residency program involves calculating several variables that ultimately must suit your own temperament, expectations and career goals.  We encourage you to ponder all of these facets, and dissect each Canadian program in light of the characteristics we describe above.  Our program is especially adept at being flexible and agile depending on the individual while at the same time providing fundamental excellence in clinical neurosurgery to all its graduates.  Our residency program will tailor to suit the needs of the trainee, rather than ask residents to follow a standard formula of training.

For all these reasons, on top of mere attraction of west coast living, we feel UBC provides the best neurosurgical training in Canada. We encourage you to read more about our residency training program.