How To Become A Neurologist? Step-By-Step Guide

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Written By Berry Mathew

If you are interested in medicine and health then you might like to know how to become a neurologist. Many students are interested in the field of Neurology but aren’t sure which field to pursue. Relax! I have picked out some subfields of neurology that can be helpful for you. I have also mentioned the list of required qualifications, skills, and duties for becoming a neurologist. Though there is potential for high income in this career, it can be quite physically challenging for you! Let us now explore how to become a neurologist before stepping into this field!

How To Become A Neurologist?

A physician who specializes in the human nervous system is known as a neurologist. The process for how to become a neurologist is given below.

  1. Obtain An Undergraduate Degree.
  2. Apply And Pass In The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
  3. Apply For And Complete Medical School Degree.
  4. Complete Residency Program
  5. Get State Licensed
  6. Get Board Certified
  7. Complete An Internship
  8. Fellowship

You need to complete extensive educational training if you wish to become a neurologist. It is very important to analyze first whether becoming a neurologist is a good career choice for you. If you are interested in knowing how to become a neurologist, please continue reading further.

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How To Become A Neurologist Step By Step Guide 

With the help of this guide, you will understand how to become a neurologist in detail. Read each of the below-mentioned sections very carefully. Make sure you don’t miss any of them. Without wasting any more time let us move forward with the guide.

  1. Obtain An Undergraduate Degree

Before entering into this field, you must complete post-secondary education. You can choose a major in any one of the subjects like chemistry or biology. The main objective of your undergraduate degree is to prepare you for medical school. Focus on subjects like chemistry, biology, microbiology, biochemistry, and human anatomy. Here, you need to maintain a grade of 3.5 or higher for applying to U.S. medical school. Neurologists work with many patients who do not speak the English language. You can learn a foreign language like Spanish while completing college.

Subjects Needed For Becoming A Neurologist

While studying in medical school, you need to master the below-given list of subjects for becoming a successful Neurologist.

  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Human Anatomy
  • English
  • Advanced Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology

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  1. Apply And Pass In MCAT.

Most medical schools ask the students to take an admission exam test known as the MCAT test. You can take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) at least a year before the beginning of medical school. This test gives you a clear idea of skills you acquired in your undergraduate pre-med program. In this test, you have to secure a maximum score to complete with other applicants. The admission councils will review your merit score and knowledge to further apply for medical school.

  1. Apply For And Complete Medical School Degree

You must immediately start applying for reputed medical schools after scoring good marks on MCAT. It is a four-year program that consists of medical courses including medical diagnostics, disease management, and surgical practices. In practice rotations, you can examine and treat patients under the supervision of an actual brain surgeon. Neurologists will expose you to the various situations you may encounter in your practice.

  1. Complete Residency Program

After completing your education, you can move forward with the residency program. Residency programs in this field are long and intense. A residency usually is for six to eight years. Here you will also attend lectures and discuss various case studies. You get to work with licensed neurosurgeons learning the skills and techniques required in daily surgical practice.

  1. Get State Licensed

Wait, your journey is not over yet! There are licensure and certification tests you must take and pass in it. These exams assess your ability to apply the knowledge, principles, and concepts you have learned in medical school. To become licensed as a medical doctor, you must be fully stated licensed and board-certified. You can take the test through the United States Medical Licensing Examination organization.

  1. Get Board Certified

For certification, candidates must have completed the medical school program and earn a medical license. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) offers certifications for qualified neurologists. You can also participate in the ABPN 10-year certification program which includes self-assessment activities.

  1. Complete An Internship

A part of your medical training will include a one-year hospital internship. Here you will manage patients and develop some skills. These skills will play an important role in building your future career. You can also apply for an internship while passing a medical licensure exam. This allows you to apply everything you learned in medical school practically. But you need to practice only under the supervision of a qualified medical doctor. This experience will make you a better physician by further preparing for your specialization in neurology.

  1. Fellowship

Many neurologists invest additional one or two years training a variety of subspecialties. You need to pass the written examination administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). Thus, you can further pursue certification in a subspecialty.

Here is the list of fellowship options for you.

  • Neuro-oncology
  • Vascular Neurology
  • Neuroimaging
  • Epilepsy
  • Autonomic Disorders
  • Brain Injury Medicine
  • Headache Medicine
  • Geriatric Neurology
  • Clinical Neuromuscular Pathology
  • Clinical Neurophysiology
  • Neural Repair and Rehabilitation
  • Neurocritical Care
  • Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry
  • Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Qualification Needed To Become A Neurologist

Aspiring candidates are always questioning, which qualifications are essential for becoming a neurologist? However, you require below educational qualifications for becoming a certified neurologist.

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Biology or related field.
  • Doctor of Medicine (M.D) degree
  • Clinical residency
  • 3-year residency in neurology
  • Fellowship in a specialized area.
  • Compete for the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USME)
  • Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN)

Skills Required To Become A Neurologist

Until now you have learned how you can become a neurologist. These are some skills you need to focus and work on to become a successful neurologist!

  • Proficient in computer skills
  • Must have a strong desire to help people and improve their daily lives.
  • Ability to multitask and manage time efficiently
  • Excellent verbal and communication skills
  • Must have great interpersonal relations
  • Knowledge of human anatomy and nervous system
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Should be able to pay attention to minute details
  • You must have a lot of patience and empathy

Duties Of A Neurologist

As a neurologist, you need to perform the following duties in this profession.

  • They treat a variety of problems like spinal cord injuries, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, migraines, and much more.
  • Examine patients through memory tests or movement activities.
  • Perform diagnostic tests, imaging tests, EGGs, and biopsies.
  • Analyzing patient test results, blood work, and spinal fluid.
  • Discuss the treatment plan with the patients.
  • Develop treatment plans for medications or therapy.
  • Prescribe medications and monitor intakes to patients.
  • Recommend other surgeons for further treatments.
  • Monitor patient’s progress post-surgery.
  • Documenting patient records and progress reports.
  • Provide tools and methods for recovery to the patients.
  • Conduct research for serving patients in a better way.
  • Consult neurosurgeons or other surgeons for patient’s advanced treatments.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Neurologist?

It takes a total of 14 years to become a Neurologist. You need a bachelor’s degree, a degree from medical school, internship and residency programs. Degree from medical school takes 4 years to complete. Students spend their first two years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms taking courses. During the last two years, you get to work with the patients under the supervision of experienced physicians. In the end, you need 3 to 7 years for various internships and residency programs.

Different Subspecialties Areas For Neurologists

Above you have learned the detailed procedure about how to become a neurologist. After the end of the residency program, you can complete further training by specializing in certain areas. Below is the list of different subspecialties you can choose accordingly.

  1. Vascular Neurology

Vascular Neurologists are the one who evaluates, treats, and studies diseases. They study the factors affecting the structure and function of blood vessels supplying the brain. These neurologists provide care for patients with cerebrovascular disease.

  1. Pediatric Neurology

Neurologists who treat children suffering from neurological conditions are known as Pediatric Neurologists. They diagnose the neurological conditions in newborns, infants, children, and adolescents. Following is the list of diseases these neurologists treat.

  • Spinal cord
  • Brain
  • Peripheral nervous system
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Muscles
  • Blood Vessels
  1. Clinical Neurophysiology

Clinical Neurophysiology is the field where neurologists study the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is studied through the recording of bioelectrical activities. Neurologists research diseases involving both pathophysiology and clinical methods.

  1. Neuromuscular Medicine

This subspeciality deals with neuromuscular junctions, where a motor neuron transmits a signal to the muscle fiber causing muscle contraction. It focuses on many diseases and factors damaging the normal functioning of the muscles.

  1. Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Neurodevelopmental disorders are a disability of the growth and development of the brain or central nervous system. Neurologists study and treat the various disorders of brain function that affect emotion, learning ability, self-control, and memory.

Below are the examples of neurodevelopmental disorders mentioned for you.

  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Impairments in Vision and Hearing.
  1. Behavioral Neuroscience

This field of Neurology investigates the interactions between the brain and the nervous system and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the disorders studied by behavioral neurologists. Following are the topics associated with this area.

  • Behavior Genetics
  • Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Decision making
  • Impulsivity
  • Cognition
  • Neuropsychiatric Disorders
  • Neurodegenerative Disorders
  1. Movement Disorders

Many neurologists choose this field for specialization in their career of neurology. This field of movement disorders deals with the below-listed disorders.

  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Tremor
  • Dystonia
  • Tics
  1. Headache

Neurologist specialists in this field focus on the treatment and management of different headache conditions. Below is the list of common headache conditions.

  • Migraine
  • Facial pain
  • Tension-type Headache
  • Cluster Headache
  • Chronic Daily Headache

Different Medical Schools For Becoming A Neurologist

For pursuing Neurology, you must take admission to the best medical school for Neurology. I have made it easy for you by presenting a list of different medical schools that can be helpful for you.

  1. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  2. University of Washington
  3. University of California-San Francisco
  4. Baylor College of Medicine
  5. University of California-Los Angeles
  6. Oregon Health and Science University
  7. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  8. University of Nebraska Medical Centre
  9. University of California-Davis
  10. University of Minnesota
  11. University of Pennsylvania

Neurologist Vs Neurosurgeon

Are you confused between a neurologist and a neurosurgeon? Above you have learned how to become a neurologist, let us learn about neurosurgeons. Both Neurologists and Neurosurgeons are experts in the nervous system. However, both the job descriptions are different from each other.

  • Neurologists examine and diagnose patients suffering from neurological disorders. While, Neurosurgeon, deals with neurosurgical surgical procedures.
  • Neurologists create treatment plans and explain the possible needed treatment for them. A neurosurgeon performs all the surgical procedures to cure the patient of neurological disorder.

Income Of Neurologist

The annual income of Neurologists ranges from $144,000 to $600,000. According to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), the average income of neurologists is $281,616. The highest income earned by neurologists in non-metropolitan areas is $500,000. The salary of a neurologist depends on the level of experience, education, training, geographic location, and area of specialization.

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How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Neurologist?

It takes 14 years to become a neurologist.

Degree from medical school takes 4 years to complete. Students spend their first two years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms taking courses. During the last two years, you get to work with the patients under the supervision of experienced physicians. In the end, you need 3 to 7 years for various internships and residency programs.

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Neurologist?

Following qualifications, you need to be a neurologist.

  1. Bachelor’s Degree in Biology or related field.
  2. Doctor of Medicine (M.D) degree
  3. Clinical residency
  4. 3-year residency in neurology
  5. Fellowship in a specialized area.
  6. Compete for the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USME)
  7. Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN)

Do Neurologists Make A Lot Of Money?

Yes, Neurologists do earn a lot of money in the field of Neurology. The annual income of Neurologists ranges from $144,000 to $600,000. According to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), the average income of neurologists is $281,616. The highest income earned by neurologists in non-metropolitan areas is $500,000.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Neurologist?

Depending upon the school you choose, this course will cost you somewhere between less than $30,000-$60,000 a year. It takes four years to complete medical school. So, you will need a maximum of $240,000 in total.

Is It Stressful Being A Neurologist?

Cons of being an neurologist

You’ll have to be patient, highly committed, and able to work toward long-term goals. The education is expensive. That excellent salary will come in handy when it comes time to pay off all those educational loans later. The work is often stressful.

Can Blood Test Detect Neurological Problems?

If you have neurological-like symptoms, your blood tests might check your Vitamin B12 and various hormone levels. Clinical neurophysiology is an area of medicine concerned with testing the electrical functions of the brain, spinal cord and the nerves in the limbs and muscles.

What Do You Study In Neurology?

Neurology is the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system. The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities. It has two major divisions: Central nervous system: the brain and spinal cord.

Is It Worth It To Become A Neurologist?

Neurology is one of the most respected and highly regarded medical fields that offers opportunities like no other. With approximately 1 in 6 people affected by some form of neurologic disease, the need for neurologists is greater than ever.

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Thus, my above article has provided you a guide for how to become a neurologist. You should consider the educational, residency, internship, and licensing factors to become a neurosurgeon. It takes at least 14 years of training before being able to practice. Above, I have mentioned different areas of specialization who need to hold a Doctor of Medicine degree. After entering medical school for a graduate degree, you may have additional years for residency programs and fellowship. Depending upon a particular sub-field of neurology, this tutorial will be helpful for you to know how to become a neurologist.

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