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Letter to Prospective Residents

Howard Yonas, MD, Chair, Department of Neurosurgery:

Howard Yonas, MD in white coat

Our residency program offers a dynamic, rigorous and fulfilling training experience. The University of New Mexico Hospital, the state’s only Level 1 trauma center, is the main training site. Our 24-bed modern Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit is co-managed by Neurosurgery, permitting our residents to get significantly more hands-on training in trauma and critical care. The program also offers a Society of Neurological Surgeons-approved enfolded fellowship in critical care for a PGY-2 resident that will enhance their training upon graduation in a field that has a shortage of trained doctors.

The Department of Neurosurgery is also the main referral provider for complex brain, stroke and spine diseases and injuries in the state of New Mexico. We have two part-time neurosurgeons assigned to the Raymond G. Murphy Veterans Affairs Medical Center and anticipate having an active resident presence at the VA beginning in 2015. This experience allows residents to work with spine diseases and injuries in this population while gaining valuable experience in injuries of the brain.

Our program emphasizes both the mastery of clinical and surgical skills and the development of important research expertise and/or a specialty concentration in areas such as critical care, pediatric neurosurgery or spine. Each resident is required to work with clinical and research faculty on an annual major research project that is presented and judged at Neurosciences Research Day. The Department provides research nurses and staff time to assist residents with their IRB submissions, grant submissions and applicable maintenance of required paperwork. The graduate medical education and residency program also requires residents to have one quality and/or patient safety project per year and assists residents with the necessary tools to complete these Clinical Learning Environment Review projects.

Many of our graduates continue on to prestigious fellowships or practice in the private sector. Some of them return to UNM as valued faculty and teachers to our current residents. As chair, I take the training of our future neurosurgeons very seriously and expect my residents to be challenged and stay busy. In return, the Department provides residents with a well-rounded training experience and the tools to be a successful neurosurgeon.

Our dynamic training program is complemented by our location in beautiful New Mexico.  Albuquerque enjoys 300-plus days of great weather a year and is known as one of the nation’s most affordable cities, enabling residents to support their families. The proximity of mountains and forests, big cities like Phoenix, Denver and Dallas and abundant cultural opportunities makes this a great place to complete your residency.


Howard Yonas, MD
Chair, Department of Neurosurgery