Career Development

At Vanderbilt, Neurology residents are encouraged to establish their career goals and take steps towards them as early as PGY-2. Residents may choose to follow a “traditional” career track or forge their own. 

Career tracks

As an academic medical center, Vanderbilt emphasizes three main tracks: clinician, physician scientist, and educator. A clinically oriented track prepares trainees to enter private practice or for a position as a neurohospitalist, for example. In this track, elective time could be spent in many ways, emphasizing the clinical development and interests of the resident. Those pursuing a career as physician scientist or researcher might choose to spend time exploring various research opportunities offered to residents, while gaining important practical knowledge about grant writing and funding sources. An educator looking forward to training future generations of neurologists will find a well-rounded experience with opportunities in formal didactics for junior residents, preclinical medical students, as well as students in clerkship and advanced clinical electives. There are a wide range of faculty with experience in each of these tracks to assist residents in understanding necessary expertise and scholarly activity required in each.

Our graduates are fully equipped to begin clinical practice upon graduation of their residency. Many residents choose to pursue further subspecialty education after graduation through a fellowship.

Many leaders in the field, however, enjoy careers that don’t fit into a predetermined box. For this reason, our residents are encouraged and supported in building new roads that fit their individual interests and skills.


While making decisions about one’s future career is an exciting step forward, it can also be overwhelming. Each resident chooses a faculty mentor to serve as a guide and advocate as they consider long-term goals of their career trajectory. A separate advisor has a similar but distinct role to review feedback and progress on milestones of the core ACGME competencies. The advisor helps create interval goals for each resident every 6 months in semiannual meetings. As residents’ timelines unfold, many decide to make changes in their career goals. We support the ability to pivot and adapt to such insights, and a resident may choose to change mentors or career tracks when they feel it fits their goals best to do so.

Elective time

Residents each have many elective rotations that can be constructed in innumerable ways, with activities specific to career development, such as spending time more deeply exploring a subspecialty or a field connected to neurology, developing a research project, developing an educational module, writing an application for a research fellowship, etc.


Current residents are evaluated based on the Neurology Milestones set by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Regular review of these milestones by residents, faculty, and mentors helps keep trainees on track for career growth. View the milestones

Recent graduates

Recent graduates of the Neurology residency program can be found in institutions across the country developing careers in all of the aforementioned tracks. They include fellows in all neurology subspecialties, neurohospitalists, physician scientists, private practitioners, academic clinicians, etc. 

Vanderbilt training offers residents rigorous, graduated autonomy that prepared me to comfortably handle challenging cases. With the incredible breadth of pathology and volume at Vanderbilt, I felt prepared to practice both general outpatient and inpatient neurology immediately post-residency. Most importantly, the mentorship offered by the faculty and the camaraderie amongst the residents created a fertile environment for me to grow as a clinician and educator.

 - Carynn Koch, MD '23

The framework for developing scientists here at Vanderbilt is unmatched—from availability of mentors, grant workshops, review committees, and departmental support. Vanderbilt invests enormous resources in this critical transition stage for physician-scientists as we grow from being part of another lab to managing our own.

- Hugh Cahill, MD PhD ‘19

Vanderbilt training was amazing because the residents are given a lot of autonomy (almost like fellows) and we had incredible access to the full gamut of attendings at all times. Most helpful component: You always staffed all your consults with an expert, which I appreciate so much more now.

- Pouya Ameli, MD, MS ‘18

The rigor  of the program  prepares us to be independent  and able to  handle medical challenges. I feel comfortable in my knowledge  of my chosen subspecialty but also feel my training has prepared me for all that general and inpatient Neurology offers. Therefore though my main focus is movement,  I could see myself transitioning into general or inpatient spaces seamlessly. The camaraderie makes the program  intriguing and enjoyable at the same time. I have faculty I can approach without  reservation about  challenging cases and colleagues who get just as excited about  unique cases. I also had an atypical path through  residency, having had to balance family illness/passings and Husband working in another  state with residency training and motherhood. Completing  my training at Vanderbilt  is a decision I would  have made  again.

- Kisha Young, MD, PhD ‘17