Residency in the Division of Neurosurgery

Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD, FRCSC
Program Director, Division of Neurosurgery
Associate Professor, University of Toronto
Scientist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Tel: (416) 480-6954
Fax: (416) 480-6085
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue, A139
Toronto, ON
M4N 3M5

From the Residency Program Director's Office

Welcome to the neurosurgery residenc​y program at the University of Toronto, the oldest training program in Canada and among the largest and most comprehensive programs in the world. Over 6 years of training our residents develop into outstanding clinicians and surgeons, ready to take on the challenges of independent neurosurgical practice. We have a proud tradition of excellence, and count among our graduates many former and current department and division chairs and academic leaders throughout North America, including pioneers in every neurosurgical subspecialty. Our mission, put simply, is to train the best and most talented medical students to become future leaders of neurosurgery.

Neurosurgical training in Toronto is grounded in several objectives, including: Training excellent clinicians and surgeons; Fostering scholarship and critical inquiry; Ensuring physical and mental well-being; Providing a safe training environment; Effective navigation through residency, research and fellowship; Promotion, outreach and advocacy; and, inspiring, motivating and attracting the best trainees.

To achieve these objectives, we harness outstanding clinical and academic expertise across 4 neurosurgical teaching hospitals: University Health Network, St. Michael Hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Hospital for Sick Children.

Unique features of our program, include:

Large clinical volumes: More than 5000 cranial, spine, peripheral nerve, and pediatric cases throughout the city's four major neurosurgical units; among the highest volume neurosurgical programs in the world

Academic output: Home to world leaders in every neurosurgical specialty, with among the largest and most impactful academic output of any neurosurgical department in the world.

Dedicated Neurosurgical Curriculum: a nationally recognized neurosurgical half-day curriculum focused on didactic lectures, hands-on tutorials and case-based learning covering the spectrum of neuroanatomy and clinical neurosurgery.

Mentorship program: linking residents with senior trainees and faculty, to navigate the early years of training and beyond

Examination preparation: featuring structured mock oral examinations throughout training, and regular case-based written and oral evaluations to prepare trainees for their certification exams.

Hands-on practical courses: Globally recognized cadaveric and surgical stimulation courses focused on neuroendoscopy, spinal instrumentation, epilepsy, peripheral nerve, temporal bone dissection, and the renowned Lougheed micro-neurosurgery course.

Journal Clubs: Structured, faculty-led city-wide journal clubs focused on evidence based neurosurgery and critical appraisal of the literature.

Surgical Scientist Training Program: Nationally recognized, and unique training program for residents interested in pursuing graduate research during surgical training. Strong track record of publication and grant capture by neurosurgery residents, in top tier journals and national/international grants and awards.

Global Network: Our clinical programs attract residents, fellows and visiting trainees from across the world, resulting in a global network of University of Toronto neurosurgery alumni

Wellness Program: Frequent and open discussions of changing neurosurgical culture, the importance of work-life balance, and mental and physical fitness. Close partnership with the post-graduate medical education office on wellness resources and outreach.

City of Toronto: Consistently ranked among the most livable cities in the World, Toronto is the cultural, food, sports, entertainment and diversity capital of Canada.

Neurosurgery is among the most exciting fields in surgery and medicine, and the Toronto program among the best places in the world to train. With ample exposure to the full breadth of clinical neurosurgery, opportunities to get involved with cutting edge research, in among the most dynamic, diverse and welcoming cities in the world, Toronto neurosurgery offers a globally unique training experience. We look forward to welcoming you!​

Nir Lipsman
Residency Program Director


Current Residents

Information for Visitng Medical Students


Organization of the Resident Training Program

The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine is comprised of a number of departments, one of which is the Department of Surgery. The Department of Surgery includes a number of Divisions, one of which is the Division of Neurosurgery. The neurosurgical staff members each hold a joint University/Hospital appointment, i.e., the appointment to the active staff is made following agreement of the R.S. McLaughlin Professor of the Department of Surgery (Professor J. Rutka), the Hospital, and the Chairman of the Division of Neurosurgery. 

The Gallie Program is an integrated postgraduate training program in the various disciplines of surgery. All University of Toronto neurosurgical residents are members of the Gallie Program. The office of the Director of the Gallie Program is situated in the Banting Institute (100 College Street, Toronto) and Dr. John Bohnen (416 978-5575) directs the implementation of the Gallie Program at the various hospitals. At each teaching hospital, the Surgeon-in-Chief carries the final responsibility for the excellence of surgical care, and at each teaching hospital the Division Head of Neurosurgery directs that hospital's neurosurgical unit. Thus, at any one time, a neurosurgical resident is a member of the Department of Surgery Gallie Program, a member of the University of Toronto Division of Neurosurgery, and a member of a neurosurgical unit at a particular hospital. Each of these rankings conveys both privileges and responsibilities. 

The McLaughlin Professor of Surgery receives advice from both the Chairmen of each Surgical Subspecialty (for Neurosurgery - Dr. A. Lozano) and from the Surgeons-in-Chief of the individual hospitals. The Chairman of Neurosurgery receives advice from the Neurosurgery Heads of Division of each individual hospital. This group meets once a month during the academic year. 

The quality of the residency training program is always an item which receives the utmost attention at meetings of all these groups. 

The Residency Program Committee (RPC)

To assist the Program Director, Dr. Nir Lipsman, in the planning, organization and supervision of the Training Program in Neurosurgery, a Residency Training Program (RPC) Committee has been organized. This committee is comprised of neurosurgical staff representatives from each teaching hospital, and resident representatives who are elected annually to the RPC by their peers. The RPC meets monthly during the academic year to discuss issues that are germane to the Training Program. Responsibilities of the Program Director in conjunction with the RPC include: The development and operation of a Training Program that meets the general standards of accreditation as set forth by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; the selection of prospective candidates for admission to the Training Program; the maintenance of an appeal mechanism for residents; the creation of a forum to discuss career planning and resident counseling; an ongoing review of the Training Program to ensure that the quality of the educational experience is maintained. 

Outline of Program
Overall Goals of the Program
Objectives of Training

Ambulatory Care Experience
General Surgery Objectives
Neurology Objectives
Neuropathology Objectives
Neurotrauma / Critical Care Objectives
ICU Objectives
Plastic Surgery Objectives
Vascular Surgery Objectives

Hospital for Sick Children Objectives
St. Michael's Hospital or Toronto Western Hospital Objectives PGY1
St. Michael's Hospital Objectives PGY2
St. Michael's Hospital Objectives PGY3
St. Michael's Hospital Objectives PGY5/6
Sunnybrook Hospital Objectives PGY3
Sunnybrook Hospital Objectives PGY5
Toronto Western Hospital Objectives PGY2
Toronto Western Hospital Objectives PGY3

Toronto Western Hospital Objectives PGY5/6 

In-training Educational Program
In-Training Examinations
Progress Evaluation
Program Evaluation
Postgraduate Trainee Guidelines
Residency Program Committee (RPC) Terms of Reference
Competence Committee Terms of Reference
Wellness Policy
Safety Policy
Faculty Teaching Evaluation Policy
Resident On-Call Policy
Fellow Policy
Financial Support Policy