“Speak loudly, clearly and confidently. Your delivery is a big part of the message.” Neurosurgeon Dr. Brian O’Shaughnessy began his lecture to our newest class of surgical neurophysiologists with these words of wisdom. It can be intimidating for a new member of the operating room to approach a surgeon, he said, but a neurophysiologist’s message can be vital to the success of the surgery and to the safety of the patient.

Intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) is the constant surveillance of the nervous system during procedures where nerve damage could occur. A surgical neurophysiologist, in essence, provides a roadmap for the neurosurgeon throughout surgery to help prevent any neurological damage and provide the best possible outcome for the patient. O’Shaughnessy, chief of neurosurgery at St. Thomas Medical Partners, said he couldn’t do his job without it.

Brian O’Shaughnessy

The class is finishing up Phase I of SpecialtyCare’s year-long Surgical Neurophysiologist I Training Program, recognized nationally by both ABRET and by the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, receiving the 2019 Malcolm Knowles Award for Outstanding Adult Education Program Leadership. Phase I of training takes place at SpecialtyCare headquarters (Brentwood, TN) where students learn the fundamentals of IONM, diving deep into the literature during classroom lectures and practicing in SpecialtyCare’s on-site simulation OR. They also job shadow once or twice a week at Nashville-area hospitals.

O’Shaughnessy carves out time for each new class to talk about the importance of their role in the OR, answer questions, and offer tips on building repour with surgeons. He also walks the class through some of his cases, looking at images and discussing procedural planning, and he emphasizes the importance of a surgical neurophysiologist’s procedural comprehension in their role on the patient care team, emphasizing that understanding the stages of the procedure and the specific anatomical risks associated with each surgical manipulation is what will make them a ‘next-level’ technologist.

SNI Class

Dr. Brian O’Shaughnessy (left) with members of SpecialtyCare’s IONM training program

Spending time with a neurosurgeon in an intimate setting is a great way to round out Phase I. Next, students will move on to their assigned regions and hospitals where they will be paired with a clinical instructor for more intensive training. Over the course of their year in training, trainees are exposed to a wide variety of surgical procedures, positioning them for success in clinical practice as well as on the national certification exam.

The last leg of the training program involves intensive board prep, as SpecialtyCare requires all surgical neurophysiologists obtain CNIM credentials upon completion of the training. We are proud to report that in 2019, all of our classes have seen 100% pass rates on their first testing attempt.

SNI class dinner

Julie Trott, director of IONM education, with more members of the training program.









Join Our Team

Are you interested in joining our team as a surgical neurophysiologist? We are currently accepting applications for a new IONM training class. If you have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in neuroscience or another life science, and are looking for a great career APPLY HERE.