University of Nebraska Medical Center

Letter from the Chiefs

On behalf of the neurology residents, welcome to the UNMC Neurology residency! 

Here in Omaha, you will find a group of residents with highly diverse educational and personal backgrounds and a deep passion for neurology, patient care, dedication to hard work, and a desire for learning. Our program is continuously evolving and growing, and there is not a better time to join us in our department.  

Although our class sizes continue to increase and our faculty numbers are ever-expanding, we remain a close-knit operation where all residents know that they can approach their colleagues and faculty without hesitation. Our wonderful program coordinator is always there for support, reminding us of upcoming deadlines, and does everything within her power to make resident life better. 

The life of a neurology resident varies from year to year. As an intern (PGY-1), you will primarily be rotating with our internal medicine colleagues but will also get the opportunity to spend three months with us on neurology rotations. This is unique amongst most neurology programs and is an opportunity to hit the ground running as a PGY-2. PGY-2s spend most of their year on the inpatient neurology wards (either on the General Neurology or Stroke teams), but there is still ample elective time. PGY-3s enjoy a less inpatient-heavy schedule with three months of Pediatric Neurology as well as more in-depth exposure to neurophysiology with a combined EMU/ EEG rotation. PGY-3 year is also when you start supervising the inpatient services. PGY-4s serve as supervising residents on the inpatient service, but they also have the most elective time as they prepare for the next step in their professional career, whether they pursue fellowship training or choose to embark on a practice in general neurology. We are happy to have transitioned to a pure night float system with no traditional 28-hour calls and support from a swing shift during busy evening hours provided by PGY-4s. Our primary site is UNMC, though we also rotate through the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Methodist Hospital, a local community hospital. 

Education is a top priority at UNMC. The design of our program is that of an apprenticeship, and our faculty are composed of highly enthusiastic educators. Our core curriculum is presented during weekly protected 3-hour didactic sessions comprised of Grand Rounds and lecture series that rotate on an 18-month basis, including an emergency lecture series to kick off each academic year focused toward incoming PGY-2s. We also have several supplemental monthly sessions including resident-led journal clubs, morning reports, patient safety/quality improvement conferences, and faculty-led procedural review sessions focused on monthly EEG and EMG/NCS. Recently, we have added a research didactic series in collaboration with research educators as well as a radiology review series to go over interesting imaging findings. All residents are expected to participate in quality improvement projects and at least some form of scholarly activity, anything from case reports to prospective/retrospective reviews to basic science research. Residents have many opportunities to present their work at conferences on the departmental, national, and institutional levels. We get monetary support from the Residency program to buy books and tools and travel to these conferences as well.

Health and well-being are considered not only important but also imperative. To help facilitate this, we have made numerous recent improvements including: The addition of a new junior chief resident position focusing on wellness and quality improvement, adding a swing shift to help get day team residents out at 5 p.m. and help the burden of night float, as well as we continue to grow our peer mentorship program. On a day-to-day level, you will spend time amongst your fellow residents in our dedicated workrooms complete with ample computers, a large-screen TV used for academic (and non-academic) purposes, a couch, mini-fridge, and an ever-expanding beverage bar (soda stream, Nespresso, Keurig, to name a few). Also, we have a very comfortable private on-call room for night-float. For days off, our department takes work hour regulations and vacation rules by GME very seriously. 

Besides departmental resources, we have a beautifully designed wellness lounge in the hospital that has a yoga room, fitness room, massage chairs and a nursing room available for house officers. There are workstations and a large food/coffee bar present in this lounge as well. The house officer association has a dedicated team that organizes games and get togethers for all house officers where we participate.  For departmental outings, we have an annual department picnic, graduation celebration, and intermittent holiday gatherings. We are also continuing to work on more monthly get-togethers for residents, now that COVID restrictions have been removed, as well as resident only biannual retreats. We prioritize our residents’ mental health; and hence, we have dedicated counseling and therapy resources that are fully sponsored. 

Omaha is a medium-sized Midwest metropolis in eastern Nebraska that has something to offer everyone. Here, you will find a breadth of opportunities for outdoor recreation with many parks and trails, area lakes, and the Missouri River. There are several distinct neighborhoods with unique selections of entertainment, dining, bars, nightlife, and shopping. Omaha is host to the NCAA College World Series and home to the world-famous Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. The Omaha metro area offers an affordable cost of living on a resident salary and is a wonderful place to raise a family, with excellent schools and child-friendly attractions. 

Our residency program offers exposure to a wide range of neurological pathology and robust potential for research opportunities. Under the guidance of our dedicated faculty and hard-working residents, UNMC has shown time and time again that every graduating resident will feel well-rounded and prepared to independently practice in the field of neurology. 

We are proud of our department and cannot wait to meet and get to know you! 

Dmitry Balian, MD, Chief of Operations
Isha Snehal, MBBS, Chief of Academics, Outreach, and Recruitment. 
Courtney Venegas, MD, Assistant Chief Resident of VA, Quality Improvement, and Wellness

Chief Residents

Dmitry Balian, MD

Chief of Operations

Isha Snehal, MBBS

Chief Resident of Academics, Outreach, and Recruitment

Courtney Venegas, MD

Assistant Chief Resident of VA, Quality Improvement, and Wellness