Teaching Philosophy

My goal is to promote active learning and train the best clinical and academic neurosurgeons. The feedback and evaluations during their training rotation is of course the standard metric used, as reflected in teaching effectiveness scores. Other measures of success in achieving my teaching goals is the rapport I try to create, long-lasting professional relationships and their independent ability to perform surgeries in subspecialty areas of skull base and endoscopy that are my specific areas of focus. I also use the endpoint of their ability to establish an independent practice when they complete their training or fellowship with me as a metric of success. I work on creating rapport with our residents and fellows in our daily clinical interactions with the goal of engaging them and promoting an informal yet effective teaching interaction such that questions and pearls can be exchanged freely as new clinical situations and neurosurgical techniques arise. I hope to help create a culture of active learning. Residents should be taught how to actively mentally engage in operative cases, and this expectation should be set up in a rigorous yet non-threatening manner. In this way, the educational value of every operative (or non-operative) case is maximized to the extent possible. Ultimately, I believe surgical training and surgical skills taught both in the operating room and in surgical skills lab setting through organized courses is the most effective teaching style for me.

Parallel with a positive environment to promote clinical training is a need to promote investigation and scholarship among our trainees. This begins with medical students and extends to our residents and fellows. To that end I help promote translation of clinical findings and selected cases of interest to promote studies to be put together, organized and written by interested trainees. In so doing our trainees gain experience in the process of scientific inquiry as well as critical aspects required to develop and submit a publishable manuscript, with all this entails, including responding to editorial and reviewer comments. I also make every effort to promote and fund attendance at meetings for our trainees—I believe that if they do the work, they should be given every opportunity to present their work and receive recognition. In addition, I do wish to promote their ability to network with colleagues and meet peers and future colleagues in neurosurgery.

A main focus of mine is to make an active and concerted effort to engage medical students, as I believe that an additional benefit for medical student involvement lies in helping to stimulate interest of promising and dedicated students to our specialty to help develop future leaders in our field. I take pride that in my past five years I have supported five medical students who have graduated and entered neurosurgery training and three undergraduate students who have successfully gone into medical school.

All of our clinical fellows are encouraged to do at least one clinical project with me during their one year fellowship training. For the past five years I have directly interacted with a total of 16 fellows, each of who have at least one manuscript prepared and published under my guidance.