Neurology as a medical specialty

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A Gap Medics student checks out some scans in a partner neurological hospital in Thailand The brain plays a role in everything from breathing to personality. When illness, injury or disease affects the brain, many other areas of the body can also suffer. There are many conditions that affect the brain and central nervous system.

As you would expect, the complexity of the brain and central nervous system requires that a highly trained medical specialist provide treatment for any conditions. That’s where a neurologist comes in.

Typical job responsibilities of a neurologist

Neurologists evaluate, diagnosis and treat patients with conditions like strokes, tumors, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. Neurologists may also care for patients with multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Typically duties of a neurologist include performing physical exams, including neurological exams, and taking medical histories. Depending on a patient’s symptoms, a neurologist will order various medical tests, such as CT scans, spinal taps and angiograms.

Neurologists evaluate medical tests, signs and symptoms in order to make a diagnosis. After determining a diagnosis, neurologists develop a treatment plan that may include medication, surgery, rehabilitation services and other special procedures.      

Training to become a neurologist 

The career path to becoming a neurologist starts similarly to other types of physician. Classes in high school should include math, science, chemistry and psychology. A bachelor’s degree is required for admission into medical school. Most med schools require upper division classes in organic chemistry, anatomy and calculus.

The medical school admissions exam is also a must for those interested in becoming a neurologist. Four years of medical school, which includes classroom lectures, laboratory work and clinical rotations, come next. After graduation, a four-year residency in neurology is the next step. An oral and written exam must then be passed for board certification.

Career opportunities and salary

Neurologists work in hospitals and medical centers. They often work along with other physicians, including family practice doctors, emergency physicians and internal medicine specialists. Rehabilitation hospitals and sub-acute facilities may also have neurologists on staff. Some neurologists also go into private practice or work in education, teaching medical students or supervising residents. In addition, there are other opportunities for neurologists in research.

Salaries often vary for neurologists based on the type of medical facilities they work in. For example, neurologists at small hospitals may make less than those at large teaching medical centers. How much experience a doctor has also plays a role in wages. According to the Neurologist Compensation Report conducted by Medscape, the average salary for neurologist in the United States in 2013 was $212,000 a year.

Benefits of a career in neurology

There are many advantages and benefits to a career in neurology. If you are someone who enjoys treating people with a variety of conditions, neurology may be a good fit. There are many different types of disease that affect the brain and central nervous system. Treating patients with different types of conditions helps keep the job interesting.

In addition, advances in the field of neurology continue to occur. New treatments are always emerging. Physicians who enjoy learning and are up on the latest research may find neurology to be a challenging and ever-changing specialty. 

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