Neurology Residency

Program Overview

The Neurology Residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is a four-year, ACGME-accredited categorical program that admits four residents per year.

Program Director’s Welcome

Welcome to the Neurology Residency! Under the leadership of our Interim Chair, Dr. Stephen Ross, the Department of Neurology at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has enjoyed continued rapid growth over the past years.

The department is composed of approximately 60 people, including faculty physicians, midlevel providers, faculty with doctorate degrees and faculty members with joint appointments in Neurology. This is an exciting time for our department.

I want to be sure to highlight what we think are the strengths of our Neurology Residency.

First, when you visit our program, you will notice the collegial environment. The residency is a priority for the department, and all faculty are actively involved in teaching. We work hard to balance the educational and personal goals of our residents with the service requirements of our department. The size of our department is ideal: we are able to have multiple faculty in each of the subspecialties of neurology, yet remain close knit so that residents are able to get to know each of the faculty during their residency.

Next, an advantage for our residency is that almost all required rotations are at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. This is the only hospital that the residents cover when they are on call, and we have a night float system in place. In the medical center, all neuroscience patient rooms, from the Neuroscience Integrated Care Unit to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, are on the same floor as the resident workroom and call room.

Finally, the Hershey area is a wonderful community that provides excellent schooling, a safe environment and an affordable place to live.

In terms of the structure of our department, we have programs in each of the following areas:

  • Neuromuscular disease (including the ALS, MDA and pediatric MDA clinics and an AGCME-approved Neuromuscular Fellowship)
  • Epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology (including a Level 4 Epilepsy Center and an ACGME-approved Clinical Neurophysiology Fellowship).
  • Stroke and vascular neurology (including a Joint Commission-certified Comprehensive Stroke Center and an ACGME-approved Vascular Neurology Fellowship)
  • Movement disorders (including the Comprehensive Movement Disorders Clinic)
  • Multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology (including the Comprehensive MS Clinic)
  • Cognitive and behavioral neurology (neuropsychology)
  • Headache
  • General neurology
  • Pediatric neurology (housed in the Department of Pediatrics)
  • Neuro-ophthalmology (housed in the Department of Ophthalmology)
  • Sleep neurology (in collaboration with the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry)
  • Neuro-oncology (in collaboration with the Department of Neurosurgery as part of our Cancer Center)
  • Neurocritical care (in collaboration with the Department of Neurosurgery and the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine)
  • Neurorehabilitation at Penn State Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Pain medicine (in collaboration with the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, including an ACGME-accredited Anesthesia/Pain Medicine Fellowship)
  • Neuropathology (housed in the Department of Pathology and Department of Neurosurgery)
  • Neuroradiology (including an interventional neuroradiology program in collaboration with the Department of Radiology and Department of Neurosurgery)

In terms of research, our department has nationally and internationally renowned basic and clinical science research programs in many of the programs listed above. Let us highlight several of our stellar research programs.

First, our Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) clinic is led by Dr. Zachary Simmons and is certified by the ALS Association. It provides outstanding clinical care as well as the opportunity for ALS patients to participate in a variety of research projects.

Our movement disorders researchers, Drs. Xuemei Huang, Mark Stahl, Elisabeth Lucassen and Thyagarajan Subramanian, have a Movement Disorder Research Program looking at novel imaging methods to identify how Parkinson’s disease affects the brain and whether stem cells can play a role in treatment.

Our multiple sclerosis program, under the direction of Drs. Gary Thomas, Barbara O’Connell and Elisabeth Lucassen, is held with staff support from the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and also offers clinical trials for patients with multiple sclerosis.

Finally, the stroke program participates actively in diverse research projects and has received ongoing certification from the Joint Commission since 2006. It is co-directed by Dr. Raymond Reichwein from Neurology and Dr. Kevin Cockroft from Neurosurgery. The program has won awards for its comprehensive services and quality outcomes.

For years, Hershey Medical Center has been recognized with the Get with the Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, recognizing the use of evidence-based treatment guidelines, best-practice tools and resources in treating stroke patients.

Our broad involvement in research provides ample opportunities for our residents to become involved in their own research projects. As you can see, it is a great time to be part of our department. We invite you to apply to our Neurology Residency.

Our Team

Program Highlights

We have been training future neurologists at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for more than 30 years. During that time, we have learned many valuable lessons from our residents about what is important in a neurology training program in order to provide excellent neurologic training.

Our program provides superb clinical training in an academic environment and provides the training needed to become a successful neurologist in academic medicine or private practice.

A graduate from our program will meet eligibility requirements for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology board examination.

The Neurology Residency four-year categorical program. All residents will complete an ACGME-approved PGY-1 year at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where they complete at least eight months of internal medicine and six weeks of neurology rotations.

Our curriculum is designed so that each resident gains expertise in diagnosis and management of patients with a wide range of neurologic disorders. We have multiple faculty in all of the subspecialties of neurology. All residents receive training in evidence-based medicine, participate in an active journal club, and complete a research project with the help of a faculty mentor. All our residents present posters at local and national meetings, and many are able to publish during their residency.

In addition, for those applicants interested in more in-depth training, our program allows up to three months of research time during a standard residency, or a year off for research as part of a flexible residency.

Our faculty are internationally recognized for quality patient care, clinical teaching, and research. Most importantly for our residents, training of new neurologists is a priority in our department. Our curriculum for training is built around active patient-care experiences. We feel these experiences are the intellectual backbone of neurology. Since this process can best be taught by demonstration, we encourage one-on-one teaching between the faculty and our residents.

The high ratio (2:1) of full-time attending teaching faculty to the number of residents allows ample opportunity for one-on-one teaching. Attending physicians are always available to discuss patient-care issues and serve as guides in the process of resident education.

From an educational standpoint, our didactic curriculum is set up to ensure there is teaching on the clinical aspects of neurology, electrophysiology and neuroscience, as well as evidence-based medicine. Our department prides itself on the quality of the neurology education provided to medical students, and our neurology residents play an active role in medical student education, which they find rewarding.

Clinical Locations

About the Program

Resident Requirements

  • ACGME milestones
  • Quality improvement project
  • Research/scholarly activity project
  • Annual RITE exam
  • Faculty evaluations after every rotation
  • Quarterly evaluations of faculty
  • Evaluations by students
  • Quarterly evaluation by office staff
  • Neurology clinical examinations (five by end of residency)
  • Biannual and end of residency evaluation of the program
  • Quarterly meetings with program director
  • Neurology ACGME Milestones
  • Attend 75 percent of required conferences: M and M, Grand Rounds, neurology lectures, Friday neuroradiology lectures, anatomy lectures


  • Noon lecture (12:10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays)
    • Resident lecture series
    • Basic science lecture series
    • Pediatric neurology conference
  • Neuroradiology conference (Friday mornings)
  • Neurology Grand Rounds (Fridays at 1 p.m.)
  • M and M conferences
  • Neuromuscular pathology conference
  • Thursday conferences
    • Patient-based presentations
    • Journal Club
    • Board Review
  • Other optional conferences
    • Neuroscience weekly seminar series
    • Psychiatry weekly grand rounds
    • Quality Assurance meetings: EMG, EEG, Movement Disorder, Epilepsy

Resident Awards

  • Balaji Krishnaiah, MD, Neurology Resident Teacher of the Year, 2014-2015; Penn State University Class of 2016 Arthur P. Gold Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award; 2016-2017 AAN Enhanced Leadership Award; 2016 Penn State College of Medicine GME Innovation Award
  • Randall Bossler, MD, Emergency Department Resident consultant of the year award; Arthur P. Gold Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award, class of 2016 and 2017
  • Emily Sun, DO, 2016 Penn State College of Medicine Hippocrates Program
  • William Jens, DO, AAN Neurology on the Hill
  • Joseph Nguyen, DO, 2016 AAN Resident Scholar Award
  • Mary Elizabeth Kovacik-Eicher, MD, 2016 Inpatient PSU Neuroscience Nursing Award for Excellence in Patient Care

Resident Publications

Posters presented at the 2016 AAN meeting, Vancouver, Canada

  • A Case Report of Metronidazole-Induced Central Nervous System Complications.
    Ning Wu, MD, PhD; Joseph Nguyen, DO; Aiesha Ahmed, MD
  • Oral presentation: Case studies: Unusual Diagnostic and Management of Cases in Neuromuscular Disease. Sarita Said, MD; William Trescher, MD; Charles Specht, MD; Matthew Wicklund, MD
  • Recurrent Episodes of Stroke-Like Symptoms in a Patient with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Neuropathy X Type 1 (CMTX1). Ning Wu, MD, PhD; Sarita Said, MD; Shyamsunder Sabat, MD; Matthew Wicklund, MD, FAAN; Mark Stahl, MD, PhD
  • Imaging of a Fatal Air Embolism from ERCP. William Jens, DO; Angelica Lee, DO, Muhammed Ibrahimi, MD

Posters presented at the 2016 Pennsylvania Neurological Society Meeting, Bethlehem, PA

  • Local hyperperfusion in acute methotrexate neurotoxicity/leukoencephalopathy. Rae Bacharach, DO; Joseph Nguyen, DO; David Ermak, DO
  • ADEM in young adult. William Jens, DO; Balaji Krishnaiah, MD; Jennifer Lee MD; Aiesha Ahmed, MD
  • Takyasu Arteritis Causing Stroke. William Jens, DO; Muhammad Niazi, MD; Aiesha Ahmed, MD
  • Mechanical Thrombectomy for Calcified Middle Cerebral Artery Embolus. Muhammad Niazi, MD; Mohammed El-Ghanem, MD; Paul Kalapos, MD; Muhammad Ibrahimi, MD
  • Pelvic MRI can be helpful in Supporting Diagnosis of Diabetic Amyotrophy in Correct Clinical Setting. Muhammad Niazi, MD; Muhammad Ibrahimi, MD; Thayagrajan Subramaniyan, MD
  • Unusual Late Appearance of MRI-DWI changes after Hypoxic Ischemic Brain Injury. Muhammad Niazi, MD; Aiesha Ahmed, MD
  • Local hyperperfusion in acute methotrexate neurotoxicity/leukoencephalopathy. Rae Bacharach, DO; Joseph Nguyen, DO; David Ermak, DO
  • DYSTEXTIA, as an initial presentation of embolic stroke from apical thrombus 2/2 Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Cheran Elangovan, MD; Balaji Krishnaiah, MD; Mohammad Niazi, MD; Thyagarajan Subramanian, MD
  • Hemichorea associated with conduction aphasia in the setting of cavernous malformation. M. Chalia; B Krishnaiah; S Subramanian
  • New variant of CIDP with respiratory insufficiency and novel antibodies without POEMS syndrome. H Tiwana; A Ahmed; D Kaur; S Bandy

To Apply

All applications must be received through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).

Your application should be completed by Dec. 1.

Application Requirements

The following items must be included in your ERAS application:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Personal statement
  • Medical school transcripts
  • MSPE or dean’s letter
  • Letters of recommendation (at least three letters from faculty, with at least one from a neurologist)
  • USMLE or COMLEX transcripts

U.S. clinical experience is preferred, but not required.

Interview Process

We will contact you via email to schedule interviews. Our interviews occur on selected Fridays between October and December.

All candidates need to be registered with the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). We do not offer any positions outside of the match.

International Medical Graduates

We do accept applications from international medical graduates. The application process is similar to the above. You must apply via ERAS and be registered with the NRMP.

Regarding visa issues, you must be one of the following:

  • A US citizen
  • A permanent resident (green card holder)
  • The holder of a J-1 visa sponsored through ECFMG

We do not sponsor any other visas.

All international medical graduates must be certified by the ECFMG prior to the match, but not prior to applying.

To be considered competitive for our program, international applicants should:

  • Have competitive scores on the USMLE. We do not have a specific cutoff for USMLE scores; however, you should have a score of 220 or above to be considered.
  • Have U.S. clinical experience in the past two years, with a letter from a U.S. neurologist
  • Have graduated from medical school in the past five years
  • Have successfully completed the Clinical Skills requirement on the USMLE
  • Be able to attain ECFMG certification as a part of your application.


Welcome from Our Current Residents

Thank you for your interest in our program. First of all, congratulations on your decision to choose Neurology as a specialty. Neurology is an intricate, exciting and deeply rewarding field. Choosing the right residency program is the first crucial step in your career. While there are a number of programs out there, let us share with you the reasons that make our program unique.

We are situated at the sweetest place on earth — Hershey, Pennsylvania. When the factories are churning and the wind is just right, you can smell the chocolate in the air. We serve an interesting patient population who challenge us with the complexity of their disease and humble us with the strength of their spirit. We receive training from experienced faculty who are not only knowledgeable but also personable and approachable. They serve not as our “bosses” but as our mentors and role models. Most importantly, we are a collegial group of co-residents who support each other and consider each other not only as colleagues but also as buddies.

So if Penn State Neurology sounds like the right fit for you, then come visit us!

We look forward to seeing you,

Sarita, Angelica, Ning, Will and Balaji

Resident Directory

Past Residents

Contact Us

Mailing Address

Department of Neurology, EC037
30 Hope Dr., Box 859
Hershey, PA 17033-0859

General Contact Information

Phone: 717-531-0003, ext. 283934

Fax: 717-531-0384