Actual teaching is organised in small groups, where the focus is on problem-based teaching. Patient cases are the foundation of teaching, which covers diagnostics and treatment. Teaching subjects in the small groups include brain injuries, spinal surgery, disturbances of CSF circulation, pediatric neurosurgery, operating theatre visits, neuroradiology, intensive care, cerebrovascular diseases, brain tumours, patient examinations and drafting case report presentations. An informal operating theatre service is also part of the course schedule.
The Department of Neurology at the Helsinki University Central Hospital is an international unit known globally for its expertise. Besides treating patients, the Department invests heavily in training and research. In addition to hospital physicians completing the programme, the unit welcomes some 120 visiting international neurosurgeons and physicians specialising in neurosurgery every year. International visitors are trained particularly in cerebrovascular surgery. The Department has earned significant international acclaim in research and treatment related to this field. Training for visiting physicians is organised annually in the form of live microsurgery demonstration courses, in addition to which operating theatre positions (ranging from one week to two years) are available in a fellowship programme led by Professor Mika Niemelä. The international nature of operations also serves the interests of the specialising physicians of the Department, since they benefit from international contacts and the exchange of information, as well as from taking part in organising and implementing courses.
The specialisation programme in neurosurgery lasts six years and includes, in addition to the service period in neurosurgery, periods in surgery, neurology and neurological specialties, as well as a service period in a health care centre (as per the course catalogue).
Physicians specialising in neurosurgery keep a logbook of their surgeries, which is periodically reviewed together with the clinical instructor. Training will be tailored for each specialising physician with the help of information recorded into the log, enabling the surgical skills of specialising physicians to progress towards the knowledge and skills required of neurosurgeons capable of independent work.
The focus is on research activities, and specialising physicians will complete their doctoral dissertation during the specialisation. Research leave will be arranged to enable scientific work.