If you want to be a neurosurgeon, it’s going to take a while. First you have to complete four years of medical school, followed by at least seven more years of neurosurgical training.
For this reason, only the most dedicated and enthusiastic new doctors decide to take the plunge. Each new batch of neurosurgical residents arrives at Columbia eagerly looking forward to another seven years of training.
This year, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Matei Banu and Dr. Paul McCormick, Jr. to the residency program here at the Department of Neurosurgery at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Drs. Banu and McCormick earned spots in our program for their devotion to patient care and their potential to become leaders in the field.
Born and raised in Romania, Dr. Banu is a graduate of Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest. Despite the distance from home, he is thrilled to be at Columbia. “This really is a dream come true for me,” he says.
For years, Dr. Banu has focused on making this dream a reality. “The U.S. offers the best training for neurosurgeons,” he says. “It is the place where the future of neurosurgery is being forged. The day I found out I would be at Columbia for neurosurgery was, without a doubt, the best day of my life.”
Our next resident, Dr. McCormick, was born in New York City. His father, Dr. Paul McCormick Sr., directs the Spine Hospital—just upstairs. Even so, the younger Dr. McCormick thought initially that he would become an English professor. His plans, he says, changed after a transformative summer in the Bartoli Brain Tumor Lab:
“The guidance and camaraderie of the lab, led by Drs. [Jeffrey] Bruce and [Peter] Canoll, made me realize the depth and richness of neurological surgery. I went on to attend Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and now get to do what I love with the most talented surgeons and residents in the field.”
Our senior doctors are equally pleased to be mentors. Teaching keeps all the doctors on their toes, says Dr. Neil Feldstein, from the Pediatric Neurosurgery Center. The residents “ask tough questions,” he explains. “These people push us.” Indeed, this year’s graduates, Drs. Jason Ellis, Benjamin Kennedy and Chuck Mikell, have asked many questions since their first days on the job, back in 2009. We are proud of all they have learned and all they have done for our patients.
After so much time working intensively together, saying farewell to our graduating residents is bittersweet. Dr. Feldstein has established a beloved tradition to congratulate the graduates. Every year, he works in secret for months on a unique, intricately photoshopped poster of the residents. The finished product is a tour-de-force of inside jokes, affection and inspiration for future achievement.
This year, Dr. Feldstein superimposed the residents’ faces onto characters from Star Wars—in dramatic poses. The result is a wild and wonderful alternative diploma that the residents can cherish throughout their careers.
We wish the best of luck to 2016’s graduates as they hang their Star Wars posters in their new offices: Dr. Ellis, in a neurosurgery fellowship at Emory University Hospital; Dr. Kennedy, in a pediatric neurosurgery fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Dr. Mikell, in a Clinical Assistant Professorship in Neurosurgery at Stony Brook University. May the force be with them all!
Read more about our residency program here.
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