“The Actualized Neurosurgeon”: A Proposed Model of Surgical Resident Development

Nir Lipsman*, Osaama Khan, Abhaya V. Kulkarni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background Modern neurosurgical training is both physically and emotionally demanding, posing significant challenges, new and old, to residents as well as programs attempting to train safe, competent surgeons. Models to describe resident development, such as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education competencies and milestones, address the acquisition of specific skills but largely ignore the stresses and pressures unique to each stage of resident training. Methods We propose an alternative model of resident development adapted from the developmental psychology literature. Results Our model identifies the challenges that must be met at each stage of junior, intermediate, and senior and chief residency, leading ultimately to an “actualized” neurosurgeon (i.e., one who has maximized his or her potential). Failure to overcome any 1 of these challenges can lead to specific long-lasting consequences, including regret, identity crisis, incompetence, and bitterness. In contrast, the actualized surgeon is one who has successfully acquired the virtues of hope, will, purpose, fidelity, productivity, leadership, competence, and wisdom. The actualized surgeon not only functions safely, confidently, and professionally, but also successfully navigates the challenges of residency and emerges from them having fulfilled his or her maximal potential. Conclusions This developmental perspective provides an individualized description of healthy surgical development. Our model allows programs to identify the basis for residents who fail to progress, counsel residents during their training, and perhaps help identify resident candidates who are better prepared to meet the developmental challenges of residency training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Competency
  • Developing
  • Education
  • Residency
  • Surgeon
  • Trainee

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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