Medical Students

The Department of Neurology teaches pre-clinical and clinical courses throughout the continuum of medical school. We have a core group of dedicated faculty, and we integrate teaching from residents in our Neurology Educator Track.

To learn more about the Department of Neurology, read below or become involved in our Neurology Student Interest Group (SIGN).

Neurology Essentials

Most students take the core neurology clerkship in their 3rd year, with the exception of LIC students. The clerkship focuses on adult-learning models, included self-directed study and active learning. Some highlights include:

  • Faculty coaching and feedback on Neurologic note-writing and examination skills
  • Access to “Brain Pods” videos - recorded and bookmarked faculty discussions about important neurologic topics available on YouTube
  • Interactive case modules

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NEUR 7120 - Neurology Research

Work with Department faculty, or at our affiliated sites, to create a research project.

NEUR 7124 - Sleep Disorders Medicine

Spend two weeks in the Fairview Chisago Lakes Sleep center. This excellent community-based experience in sleep disorders gives students exposure to children and adults with a broad range of disorders.

NEUR 7520 - Child Neurology

Spend 4 weeks working with our pediatric neurologists at Masonic Children’s hospital and in the Discovery clinic

NEUR 7565 - Subspecialty Elective

Outpatient focused rotation spending time with Movement Disorders, CNP, Neuromuscular and Headache providers, as well as inpatient time with Vascular/Neurocritical care. If capacity allows, this rotation can be tailored to suit student interests.

NEUR 7599 - Subinternship

Inpatient focus with increasing exposure and responsibility on the general neurology service as well as Vascular/Neurocritical Care. Includes one week of outpatient clinic. If capacity allows, this rotation can be tailored to suit student interests.

NEUR 7600 - Epilepsy Diagnosis and Treatment

This rigorous, interprofessional rotation takes place at MINCEP with our comprehensive epilepsy team.

Course Offerings

Neuroscience is part of the core pre-clinical basic science curriculum for first-year students at the University of Minnesota Medical School. In the 2018-2019 academic year, Dr. Starks joined neuroscientist and neuroscience course director Dr. Matt Chafee as clinical co-director of the MS1 Neuroscience course. They were awarded an Education Innovation Grant by the Medical School in 2018 to support their goals of better integrating basic neuroscience with clinical neurology throughout undergraduate medical education and incorporating active learning into the curriculum.

Neuroscience is a particularly fertile and crucial subject for collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians given the challenges presented by the phenomenon of “neurophobia” in medical education. Neurophobia, a term coined by Ralph Jozefowicz in 1994, refers to a fear of neuroscience and neurology that is common amongst medical students. More than 20 years later, this phenomenon remains all too common and widespread, and is postulated to be the cause of the projected shortage of neurologists currently facing this country. Dr. Jozefowicz hypothesized that the lack of integration between basic neuroscience and clinical neurology curricula resulted in students having difficulty reasoning through clinical problems and leading them to perceive neurology as too complex, thereby decreasing interest in the field. Indeed, subsequent studies have demonstrated that integration of basic neuroscience and clinical neurology, particularly through a problem-based learning approach and utilization of e-learning technologies, improves learners’ understanding of the material and increased comfort with neurology. Drs. Chafee and Starks seek to combat neurophobia through integration of neuroscience and neurology in addition to innovative active learning curriculum.

During the first year of Essentials of Clinical Medicine course, community and academic neurologists come together to teach fundamentals of the neurological exam. Students rotate together with a tutor to see four patients with neurologic diseases.

Health and Human Disease 5 (HHD5) is part of the year-long organ system-based second-year medical school curriculum focusing on disease pathophysiology. The HHD5 block includes neurology, neuropathology, psychiatry, ophthalmology and ENT.

Dr. Jamie Starks is the Neurology Course Discipline Lead. The neurology pathophysiology portion of HHD5 will be taught entirely by senior teaching track neurology residents under Dr. Starks’ mentorship. This instructional method is based on the principle of near-peer education with the belief that senior neurology residents have enough expertise to teach the course but also are close enough to having learned the material themselves that they uniquely understand medical students’ level of knowledge, enabling them to teach the material in an accessible way. The model of residents-as-teachers for this course was piloted in 2016 by Dr. Starks and Dr. Laura Foster, who were senior neurology residents at the time. This model has been very well-received by students.

In 2019, the course will be taught by senior residents Roshni Patel, Leighton Mohl, and Rami Assadi.

Research Opportunities

Undergraduate and medical students often have an interest in joining research projects in lab or clinical settings. Learn more about the possibilities by contacting our Medical Education Research Advisor, Beth Zander at, or attending our SIGN Research Networking Night.

Student Interest Group Neurology (SIGN)

The Student Interest Group Neurology is led by an active group of medical students who organize informative and engaging events for medical students, including:

  • Applying to Neurology - Advice from a Chief (Aug)
  • Neurology Skills Workshop (Sept)
  • Research Networking Night (Dec)
  • Lunch and Learns (varies)
  • Residency and Fellowship Speed Networking Night (March)
  • Meet the Matched (May)

Read more about SIGN and Neurology education in Synapses, written by SIGN President Emmanuel Okematti.

SIGN Webpage

Visiting Students

The University of Minnesota welcomes visiting students, as capacity allows, who interested in pursuing careers in neurology and learning more about our programs. A VSAS application is required. Visit the Medical School’s Visiting Students page for more information.