Neurology fellowships are available in vascular neurology, clinical neurophysiology, neuromuscular medicine and sleep medicine. Prospective fellows can consider top programs and career information when choosing between options.
Neurology fellowships are pursued by licensed physicians who've completed medical school and a residency program, usually in the area of neurology or pediatric neurology. The subsequent fellowships allow them to focus on a subspecialty.
These training programs typically last a year, though some schools give their fellows the option of completing an additional year of study. Common activities for fellows include:
- Attending lectures
- Providing care to patients in clinics and hospitals
- Conducting laboratory research
- Participating in conferences
- Attending grand rounds
Here are some subspecialty areas in which neurology fellows can focus their studies:
Vascular neurology fellowships teach physicians to care for victims of strokes and other cerebrovascular disorders. Fellows typically study prevention techniques and diagnostic procedures. They can also examine such treatments as interventional and acute stroke reperfusion therapies and oversee clinical trials. Additionally, some programs prepare graduates to continue their education in a surgical neuroradiology residency.
Physicians interested in learning how to help patients manage epilepsy can undertake one of these fellowships, which includes more extensive didactic training than some of the other subspecialties. Physicians might attend lectures and conferences on such topics as seizure classification and epilepsy neuroimaging. During clinical rotations, they learn how to interpret an EEG (electroencephalography), monitor patients and conduct sleep studies. Some programs allow fellows to further specialize in adult or pediatric epilepsy.
Neuromuscular medicine fellowships teach physicians how to diagnose and treat nerve and muscle disorders, such as ALS. Physicians receive instruction on topics including neuromuscular anatomy and histopathology before conducting lab research and completing clinical experiences, where they might provide patient consultations and conduct such diagnostic procedures as muscle ultrasonographies, EMGs (electromyograms) and tissue biopsies.
Fellows in a sleep medicine program study insomnia and other sleep disorders by using such diagnostic tools as sleep latency tests, polysomnograms, esophageal pressure monitoring and EEGs. In addition to conducting sleep studies and treating patients, physicians might observe patients receiving care at clinics that provide behavioral therapies or those offering surgical treatments. Some sleep medicine programs admit fellows who've completed internal medicine, family medicine or general psychiatry residencies, in addition to former neurology residents.
Using information from 2012 to 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked the best hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery. Each of the top five programs offers neurology fellowship opportunities. These hospitals are:
- Mayo Clinic
- Johns Hopkins Hospital
- New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell
- Massachusetts General Hospital (fellowship offered through Harvard University)
- UCSF Medical Center
Career and Salary Info
Many fellowship programs prepare graduates to pursue voluntary certification from such professional organizations as:
- American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
- American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine
- American Board of Sleep Medicine
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), board certified physicians might face more favorable employment opportunities than physicians who haven't undergone this credentialing process.
The BLS also reported that physicians and surgeons could see a 14% job growth overall from 2014-2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations. According to March 2017 data from PayScale, neurologists earned a median annual salary of $204,644.
In order to become a physician specializing in a particular area of neurology, it is necessary to pursue academic studies and clinical practice through a fellowship program in that area. Excellent programs are available at schools across the country and can prepare physicians for specialized certification exams.