In order to match the actual and future demand of neurosurgeons in Spain, it is necessary and urgent to reduce the number of neurosurgical in-training positions. To achieve this goal, it is essential to obtain periodical and up-to-date structural information of the different Neurosurgery Departments and Units, and to revisit the accreditation terms of the more than fifty current teaching units 1).
A new Residency Program in Neurological Surgery has been recently elaborated by the “Comisión Nacional de Neurocirugía” following the requirement of the National Council of Specialities. This new Program, which will replace the one proposed in 1992, has been designed in a similar way as those applied in countries providing the best neurosurgical training. Changes included deal with the definition of the speciality, and the introduction of new rotations,a resident Log Book, a Tutor with a well defined profil and commitments, a structured planning of academic and clinical objectives, a rotation or training in research, and a planning for continuous evaluation of the progress of the resident. It is likely that an appropriate application of the new Program in Spanish neurosurgical units with accreditation for training will result in formation of highly competent neurosurgeons. However, there are new challenges for improving neurosurgical training and the development of our speciality in Spain, as those related with new legislation regulating resident working hours, or some political decisions changing the mechanisms for controlling the number of resident positions per year 2).
Since the methodology of research related to the basic knowledge of the nervous system function is becoming increasingly complex, it could be proposed that neurosurgeons can not longer contribute to productive research in neurosciences, and this idea might be easily accepted in certain countries such as Spain, where research training is not contemplated in the Residency Program of Neurosurgery. However, all neurosurgeons academic or not, should exhibit a critical and inquiring mentality which enables them to evaluate scientific information and communicate their own clinical experience to the neurosurgical community. Such a critical capacity can not be acquired by a resident trained only in the art of clinical diagnosis and the surgical technique. The new medical practice is based on both basic and clinical-epidemiological research, and the new residents must be immersed into a motivating and inquisitive environment in which the scientific method is continuously applied to the clinical practice. LObato et al., consider research training in Neurosurgery in developed countries with the aim of identifying a strategy for introducing a period devoted to research in the Spanish Residency Program. Thus, the methodologies, objectives, contents, duration and the moment for receiving research training in other countries are analysed and some alternatives for solving the problem in Spain are pointed out 3).