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Medical Schools for Aspiring Neurologists: How to Choose

Neurology is the study of the disorders related to the nervous system of the human body. To become a neurologist, students must complete medical school followed by a neurology residency program. Students wishing to specialize in a specific area of neurology may also wish to complete a fellowship after completing their residency program.

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After college, the first step in becoming a neurologist is to graduate from medical school. Students can find relevant training in medical schools, which are often housed within universities and affiliated with hospitals.

Top 10 Medical Schools

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked these institutions as the top ten primary care medical schools in the country:

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Washington Seattle, WA 4-year, public $33,519 in-state, $63,954 out-of-state
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 4-year, public $21,837 in-state, $48,716 out-of-state
University of California - San Francisco San Francisco, CA 4-year, public $32,751 in-state, $44,996 out-of-state
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 4-year, public $28,482 in-state, $70,850 out-of-state
Oregon Health and Science University Portland, OR 4-year, public $39,196 in-state, $55,740 out-of-state
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, public $31,731 in-state, $43,976 out-of-state
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, private $53,575
Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX 4-year, private $19,650
University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN 4-year, public $37,872 in-state, $51,510 out-of-state

Source: U.S. News & World Report

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School Selection Criteria

There are several factors for prospective neurologists to consider when looking for a medical school program.

  • According to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), students interested in neurology need to consider whether a medical school offers a clerkship in neurology as a requirement or an elective (www.aan.com).
  • They should also check to see if the school offers support groups such as a Student Interest Group in Neurology (SIGN) and if the school conducts neurological research.
  • Students need to be sure their medical school is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the main accrediting body for medical schools, as residency programs will not accept graduates of non-accredited programs.
  • When comparing medical schools, students should look at placement rates in residency and fellowship programs.

Medical School

Medical school is usually a four-year program. In the first two years, students typically take coursework in the sciences. The last two years focus on diagnosis and treatment of diseases and illnesses, clinical rounds and in developing an area of interest. Some schools offer courses specific to neurology, while others include this specialty within other courses. Some medical schools offer specialized or advanced training in neurology during the fourth year, which can be based in research or clinical practice.

Neurology Residency Programs

Residency programs expand on the knowledge gained in clerkships and internships in medical schools. They enhance the ability to perform assessments and diagnosis conditions, interpret neurological data and work within the healthcare system. Some neurology residency programs are integrated and incorporate the first post-graduate year into their curriculum. Other schools may require the residency program to be completed separately. While these are largely work-oriented programs, students also participate in seminars on a wide range of topics.

Neurology Fellowships

Fellowships allow neurologists who have completed their residencies to specialize in a specific area with more autonomy. Fellows assist with the education of medical students and residents, while gaining experience in clinical decision-making and patient care.

Aspiring neurologists can prepare for this career by enrolling in a medical school with strong academic offerings in the field. After that, they can complete neurology residency programs and fellowships.

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