Virtual Learning in Global Neurosurgery: A Necessary Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Nathan A Shlobin Department of Neurological Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA
  • Nqobile Thango Department of Surgery, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Ronnie E. Baticulon Division of Neurosurgery, Department of the Neurosciences, Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines
  • James M. Johnston Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Division of Neurosurgery, Children’s of Alabama Hospital, Birmingham, AL, USA
  • Ignatius Esene Neurosurgery Division, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Bamenda, Bambili, Cameroon
  • Michael C. Dewan Department of Neurological Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA



distance learning, e-learning, virtual learning, online learningRemove online learning


Objective: The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reduced access to in-person educational activities in neurosurgery, necessitating different educational paradigms. Virtual learning, both live and on-demand, has become an essential educational paradigm in global neurosurgery in response to the pandemic. We discuss the different virtual learning modalities that have been developed or grown within global neurosurgery due to the pandemic.

Methods: A narrative and anecdotal review was conducted.

Results: We discuss webinars, virtual interactive presence technologies, digital simulation, social media, and web-based connectors and their role in global neurosurgery.

Conclusion: As a community of neurosurgeons and future neurosurgeons, if we are to meet the global growing demand for neurosurgical care, we must embrace virtual learning in surgical training. The irreplaceable role of hands-on demonstration and teaching in the operating theatre will always remain paramount. However, development and utilization of progressive connectivity technologies will bring us closer to an achievable and sustainable future for neurosurgical training worldwide.