A passion for teaching and education is what marks the St. Vincent program at the Mercy Health-St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio. The St. Vincent neurology program is a categorical residency, but you can also complete a or a preliminary residency in any other general specialty, such as a or since the program is also offered as an advanced residency. The St. Vincent neurology program participates in the main Match program of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), and is among the most competitive residencies in the US, as it only has four resident positions available each year. This article will detail more about the St. Vincent neurology program, what distinguishes it from other programs, and what you need to get matched!
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Resident Positions: 4
Length of Program: 3 years or 4 years as an integrated program
Salary Range: $63,963 - $68,636
The St. Vincent Neurology program at Mercy Health is a small program, in terms of number of residents, so you will be part of a close-knit team throughout your three years as an intern, resident and . Neurology residencies often require you to complete a transitional year or preliminary residency beforehand, and the program at St. Vincent is no different. However, you can also apply directly to the program, since there is a categorical option, if you want to get an introduction to the learning environment, faculty and training sites rather than complete a residency somewhere else and then apply.
Another important distinction of the St. Vincent neurology program is that it’s an and is a great option for who want to pursue neurology. Friendly is putting it mildly; 96% of its current residents are foreign-trained doctors who hail from countries such as Jordan and Pakistan. However, as a foreign-trained doctor you must still follow the admission requirements for all foreign-trained doctors who want to complete a residency in the US, meaning you must receive , as well as have some clinical or research experience in the US (although it is not a requirement, only recommended).
The program also sponsors HB-1 visas for anyone who has met the requirements cited above, and also has an exemplary educational or training background. Passing your or exams on your first attempt are also something the , although, again, it is preferred but not required.
Neurology is a science-heavy discipline and the program curriculum at St. Vincent reflects that focus. You will be given a lot of time to pursue your own research interests while in the program, but your training will also focus specifically on diseases and disorders of the mind in all types of patients from children to the elderly. The facilities and training sites are also impressive. As a neurology resident, you’ll rotate through the hospital’s clinics and centers dedicated to neurological disorders.
St. Vincent operates one of the only mobile stroke units in Northwest Ohio and also features a Neuroscience Institute, along with a Comprehensive Stroke Center, where you will consult with patients who have already experienced a neurological event or are at-risk of one. General medicine rotations will be done in your internship year, or through your preliminary or transitional year residency, so during PGY2, you’ll start seeing patients right away and do rotations in everything from the Neuro ICU, psychiatric ward or the pediatric neurology inpatient ward.
Want to know the most competitive and least competitive residencies? Watch this video:
The four positions at St. Vincent Neurology are usually filled during every match program, so it is a competitive residency to get into. This program emphasizes your USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX Level 1 scores as a prerequisite for getting matched, but only in terms of how many times you’ve taken the test. As the USMLE will, for future exams, only issue a pass/fail grade, the program’s reliance on the numerical score for the admissions process may change. For now, the program still asks for your USMLE and COMLEX scores, along with:
The minimum scores for your USMLE or COMLEX exams must be either:
A residency interview is your last step to getting into the St. Vincent neurology program. Previously, you would attend an in-person interview day where you would meet with all the relevant faculty and administrators. You would also be taken on a tour of the hospital and its facilities. The interview format is a panel one, so you’d meet with the residency program director, chief residents, and other program administrators.
However, now, interviews are done virtually. But, despite the change in format, you’ll also have a chance to interact with many different people during your virtual interview, as well as go on a virtual tour of the medical center, where you can ask questions about the program, and find out what other benefits and features it has to offer.
Getting ready for your residency interview?
We already mentioned that the program is mostly comprised of foreign-medical graduates, but that does not mean you must also be one. St. Vincent neurology accepts US MDs, as well as Canadian-trained doctors. But the fact that St. Vincent neurology is an and has a majority of IMG doctors speaks to the fact that their background and passion for neurology matters more than where they went to medical school.
Experience and achievement in neurology is one of the main factors for anyone applying to the program, so, if you are genuinely interested in neurology, you should start gaining that experience as soon as possible. Neurology is often a required rotation in medical school, but since your clerkship years are packed with many different medical specialties, it is not the most extensive rotation.
You can always increase your exposure to neurological disorders and patients by taking more medical electives within the field, but also through clinical experiences, where you interact with patients affected by neurological disorders, such as in an inpatient neurology ward. Direct patient experiences can help you develop assessment skills, and also how to communicate empathetically with patients and their families.
However, you can also increase both your experience and empathy simply by reading about past patients and their unique cases. Neurological disorders manifest themselves externally (think Tourette’s, or speech and motor function impairment associated with stroke patients) so they not only involve investigation of internal causes but also understanding of how individual disorders affect patients differently. Of course, reading only increases your knowledge. But to show that you’re committed to the field, you should gain research experience, and, ideally, publish papers in medical journals.
We already mentioned how interviews are structured at St. Vincent neurology, but it is during your interview that you will be asked what is behind your interest in neurology. This question is one of the most common , and you need to present a clear answer that not only reveals your motivation, but what you have done to live up to this commitment. If you apply to the program as a PGY2, meaning you’ve already completed a preliminary residency somewhere else, you can talk about that experience, what you learned and how it prepared you for a neurology residency.
If you’ve been interested in neurology from even before medical school, you can also talk about that but, again, focus more on how you followed through with this interest. Did you shadow a neurologist to gain ? Did you join a neurology student association while in medical school? Did you take several neurology-based or adjacent ? What did you take away from these experiences and what are your interests in going forward? Will you pursue a in any of the 16 different sub-specialties within neurology?
Having answers to these questions are important, but you also need to have these experience to talk about them. But if you’re entering an advanced neurology residency, such as the one at St. Vincent neurology, you will probably have answered “yes” to all of the above. If that is the case, then you should focus on doing to help refine your answers, but also to build-up your confidence, so you are not nervous or agitated during the real interview.
The program at St. Vincent neurology is community-based so a majority of your time will be devoted to inpatient settings, rather than doing outpatient consults at outside urgent care or private clinics. However, if you apply for the categorical residency, you will spend your intern year rotating through general medicine specialties in both inpatient and outpatient settings, such as emergency medicine, psychiatry, women’s health and general surgery.
In PGY2, you can expect to put in at least 60 hours/week, which will be divided between doing rounds, didactics, night float, research time and patient care. As with most advanced residencies, your focus will be only on neurology and its sub-specialties, although you will have some electives in your PGY2, they will usually also focus on neurology and can be anything from headache medicine and neuroradiology to interventional neurology and epilepsy. Some of the other possible electives include:
- Sleep medicine
- Neuro ophthalmology
- Demyelinating Disease/Multiple Sclerosis
- Movement disorders
- Neuro rehabilitation
You will also have to complete at least 70% of the didactic programs available to you as a resident, which include everything from attending lectures and conferences to journal club. During journal club, you’ll sift through past medical histories and deconstruct these cases to apply modern medical therapies or to discuss what you would’ve done to treat these patients with your fellow residents.
St. Vincent Medical Center is an important medical hub for Ohio and surrounding states. This means that patients will travel to you, which also means that you’ll spend a lot of your rotation time as a neurology hospitalist. As a neurology hospitalist, you will be brought in for consultations with inpatients who have presented with symptoms suggesting a neurological disorder, or who have suddenly started to exhibit symptoms of an impending neurological event.
The curriculum at St. Vincent neurology is also divided between adult and child neurology, so you will also be seeing a lot pediatric patients, as well as adult or geriatric patients. To sharpen your diagnostic skills, some of your required rotations will involve being trained on using either an electroencephalogram (EEG) or an electromyography (EMG). These diagnostic methods are often used to diagnose seizures and other neurological disorders by tracking brain functions and how they respond to different stimuli.
Yet another required rotation at St. Vincent neurology is the stroke ward, or being a Stroke Alert Resident. This designation means that you will be alerted immediately to any inpatient who presents suddenly with the symptoms of a stroke, even though they were admitted for another reason. You will work alongside the attending residents, nurses and other caregivers to decide the best course of action, such as whether to administer thrombolytic or endovascular therapy, order more tests or perform an on-the-spot assessment of any possible complications.
Depending on which neurology sub-specialty interests you the most, you can create a schedule that focuses more on that particular sub-specialty to help you prepare for a following your time at St. Vincent neurology. But, as we mentioned, most of your time will be devoted to seeing inpatients rather than outpatients, so don’t expect to be traveling to various training sites throughout the state. There are only three main training sites involved in the St. Vincent neurology program, so if you are interested in seeing patients in different settings (urban, rural, or remote) then you should find programs that offer those tracks or electives.
Resident Support and Wellness
As the St. Vincent neurology program is staffed mostly by IMGs, it offers a wide range of benefits and incentives to help foreign-trained doctors settle in Ohio. You can receive up to $1,000 to cover moving and resettlement expenses. The program will also help you cover any costs associated with your educational pursuits (research projects, paying for assistants, and studies) with an annual $2,000 education stipend. Along with these benefits, you will also receive health, life and disability insurance for you and any dependents, along with having your own medical, dental, and prescription drug needs covered by a comprehensive insurance plan. You can also take advantage of discounted fees for fitness facilities in and around Toledo, and the 21 days paid vacation time given to all residents in the program.
Rotation Training Sites
- Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center
- Mercy Health – St. Charles Medical Center
- Mercy Health – St. Anne Hospital
1. Demonstrate More than an Interest in Neurology
As the program at St. Vincent Neurology is both advanced and categorical, if you decide to enter via the advanced pathway, you can prepare for this program by taking a child neurology residency, which is yet another way to demonstrate your commitment to the field. But that is not the only way to show how devoted you are to neurology. We mentioned above some of the other ways you can do this and why it’s important, especially with advanced residencies such as neurology. Neurology is a complex specialty. It requires patience and a desire to uncover root causes that will be different for every patient and disorder, so, if you have actively pursued neurology-specific experiences like the ones we mentioned, it will go a long way to preparing you for a neurology residency, as well as impressing residency directors. Whether you include these experiences in your personal statement, your , or your interview answers, make sure that they speak of your dedication and passion for neurology.
2. Gain a Lot of Research Experience
This tip is related to the previous one, but it is more specific as it requires more initiative on your part to seek out research experience or to create your own line of research. This tip also requires that you decide on a specific sub-specialty of neurology, as there is myriad of research possibilities, especially within this field. You should talk to your professors in the neurology department at your medical school to inquire about whether they need research assistants or whether they can help guide you in your own research. This is something that the residency directors and faculty at St. Vincent neurology will also do, but you should be networking and seeking mentors while you’re still in medical school so you can get a better understanding of how you can contribute something unique to the discipline.
3. Seek and Develop Relationships with Experts
This basically means that you seek and develop a professional relationship with a mentor, or any senior, practicing neurologist. Learning from those who have already passed through medical school, residency, a fellowship and years of real-world experience is one of the best ways to stay motivated during your residency journey. A mentor who specializes in neurology can be a source for other things as well, including which residency program is best for a specific sub-specialty, which fellowship program has the most cutting-edge research facilities, or what is the best sub-specialty within neurology for your interests. Most importantly, a mentor will be someone who you can rely on for honest feedback, especially when you are writing your or are trying to refine your answers to .
The St. Vincent neurology residency is for you if you want to do your residency at a quiet, out-of-the-way, community-based facility where you will also be exposed to a wide variety of patients. As we mentioned, many people travel to St. Vincent specifically to receive care for a wide variety of issues, not just neurological ones, so you’ll never lack for diverse patients with different problems. The St. Vincent neurology residency is also among the friendliest to international medical graduates, but mostly because of the extent of its training centers and resources that attract those who are truly interested in neurology.
1. How many resident positions are there at St. Vincent neurology?
The St. Vincent neurology program only offers four resident positions every year.
2. Where is St. Vincent neurology located?
St. Vincent neurology operates out of the St. Vincent Medical Center operated by Mercy Health and located in Toledo, Ohio.
3. What are the other benefits of joining St. Vincent neurology?
The program offers a moving and resettlement stipend for those who are coming from outside of the US or Ohio. But it also offers more traditional resident benefits, including everything from more than two-weeks of paid leave time, comprehensive health insurance, paid sick-leave time, and access to an Employee Assistance Program.
4. How can I get into St. Vincent neurology?
You should demonstrate your interest in neurology and all kinds of neurological disorders during medical school, which means taking added electives in the field, participating in neurology-related research, and being a member of student organizations around neurology. You’ll also have to have a minimum USMLE or COMLEX score, although that is a recommended requirement. For IMGs, you must have your ECFMG certification, but also have had some clinical experience in the US or Canada. All applicants must also not have been out of medical school longer than five years to apply.
5. Do I need to have minimum USMLE or COMLEX scores?
Yes, but there is no word yet on whether this recommended requirement will change in the future.
6. How long is the St. Vincent neurology program?
If you enter the program as an advanced residency, meaning you have already completed a preliminary or transitional residency, the St. Vincent neurology program lasts only three years. But if you choose the categorical option, the program will last four years, as you will complete a general internship for your first year and the focus solely on neurology.
7. Is St. Vincent neurology hard to get into?
The program interviews almost 20 applicants to resident position in the previous year, so it can be challenging to get into St. Vincent neurology, although it is not the most competitive. As long as you have a demonstrated interest in neurology, have good letters of recommendation and an outstanding dean’s letter, and do well during your interview, you shouldn’t have a problem getting in.
8. What is the curriculum like at St. Vincent neurology?
Depending on the type of residency you will do (advanced or categorical), the curriculum at St. Vincent will either focus solely on neurology (advanced), or include an intern year in general medicine (categorical). Afterward, the curriculum focuses mostly on delivering neurological care in inpatient settings, but you will also spend time going to lectures, and attending conferences with senior residents and faculty.