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Neurologist: Job Requirements and Description

Aug 06, 2019

The process of becoming a neurologist involves undertaking a lot of formal education. In this article, the educational requirements, neurologist job description and certification and licensure requirements for prospective neurologists are summarized.

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Neurologist Career Information

Neurologists are medical doctors who specialize in treating diseases that afflict the nervous system. The road to becoming a neurologist is a long one with years of medical training needed, including stints at medical school and a clinical residency. Neurologists can work directly with patients in a hospital or clinic, or they can work in a research capacity. Budding neurologists can earn their board certification by taking an exam in the field.

Required Education Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree; clinical residency
Other Requirements Medical licensure; often board certification in neurology also required
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)* 13% for all physicians and surgeons
Mean Salary (2018)* $208,000 or more for all physicians and surgeons

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Neurologist Education Requirements

Aspiring neurologists must first attend college and then medical school. During their undergraduate years, the neurologists of tomorrow often major in a traditional science such as biology, chemistry or even biomedical science so that they have a foundation for moving on to medical school. Some colleges may even offer a pre-med concentration that will incorporate specific science courses that provide an even more appropriate grounding for medical school. Appropriate pre-med degree courses are sometimes offered online.

Medical schools must be accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medication Education, and admission into these schools is highly competitive with applicants needing to score highly on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Schools also typically require applicants to attend an interview, and their personality and perceived leadership qualities can be a key factor in securing a place.

A degree from a medical school usually takes four years to earn, and towards the end of the program candidates must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

Once the examination is complete, a licensed doctor can participate in an internship for two to three years and/or enter a neurology residency that can run for around three or four years and will typically feature rotations in subspecialties such as child neurology, neuro-oncology and behavioral neurology. Beyond the residency, further specialization can be achieved by undertaking a clinical fellowship program in neurology.

Neurologist Certification

Most medical employers prefer their neurologists to be board certified, so it is generally a good idea for neurologists to get their certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). Certification requires the successful completion of a written and multiple-choice exam.

Neurologist Job Description

The working environment of a neurologist is usually contained within a hospital, clinic or research lab. In clinical environments, neurologist responsibilities will involve spending time examining patients and diagnosing neurological disorders such as dementia, stroke and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by way of appropriate testing followed by subsequent treatment. Neurological researchers tend to work in universities and university hospitals where they contribute to clinical trials and research projects and present their findings in medical journals.

Neurologist Job Outlook

The job outlook for neurologists is promising, with job growth for physicians and surgeons in general forecasted to increase by 13% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This rate of growth is faster than average for all other occupations. The BLS also reported that the median salary for physicians and surgeons in 2018 was greater than or equal to $208,000.

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