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"Neurology is the practice of medicine that concentrates on the human brain and nervous system. From higher cognitive disorders (such as Alzheimer dementia) to diseases of nerve and muscle (neuropathies and myopathies), neurologists serve as nervous system specialists at every level. With compassion and dedication, neurologists take care of patients presenting with a wide variety of complaints: headaches, numbness, weakness, tremors, seizures, speech difficulty, and changes in consciousness."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 263.

M1 and M2 Students

 What advice would you offer first- and second-year students who are interested in pursuing your specialty?

It is a spectacular field. If you are meticulous, intellectual and enjoy solving puzzles, this may be a great specialty for you. Want to learn more? Join the Student Interest Group in Neurology and get involved with mentoring and other special activities.

 How important is a research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

Research experience is not necessary for a successful match into the specialty, but is very useful to get a broader understanding of the advancements in the field. In addition, a mentored research experience allows students to work directly with the faculty. Students are encouraged to contact the faculty to inquire regarding potential research projects. There are plenty of opportunities.

M3 and M4 Students

 What M4 electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?

An advanced neurology rotation, a medicine subinternship and ophthalmology.

 Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?

It is not necessary. If you are interested in a very specific program, then it may be a good idea, but you cannot do a rotation in every program that you are interested in.

 If your specialty recommends doing away rotations, how many "aways" do you recommend?

Same answer as the above question.

 Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?

Most neurology programs interview early. You can take off between November and December or December and January.

 Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?

No. At least one to two letters should be from neurologists.

 If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?

We recommend that the other letter or letters should be from internal medicine. However, this is not a must. If you feel that you performed well in other rotations and that the faculty member you worked with will write you a strong letter, that should be okay.

 Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?

Having a strong letter of recommendation is more important. If a high-ranking faculty member writes you a mediocre letter, that will not help you. However, it would be to your advantage to have a high-ranking and well-known faculty member write you a strong letter.

 Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?

It is not required, but would be a plus, since most chairmen know each other. But keep the response to the previous question in mind.

 Neurology Specialty Session - Winter / Residency Application Information

During the winter of the M3 year, students should attend specialty sessions sponsored by the Department of Neurology to learn more about the specialty and meet attendings and residents in the field.

Request a Neurology Advisor

Specialty Career Advisor:


Stephen Van Haerents, MD
View Profile


Evelyn Jones
Neurology Coordinator

For More Information

Department of Neurology
Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine
Abbott Hall, 11th floor
710 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60611-3078