Are you fascinated by the brain and how it works? Does treating epilepsy or ALS sound like a challenge you’d love to take on? If so, you should look into becoming a neurologist.
The field of neurology is experiencing a lot of growth, both in job outlook and scientific advances. It’s a great career choice for someone who loves medicine, being constantly challenged, and is motivated by helping others.
If you’re interested in entering this sought-after medical specialty, keep reading for a brief overview of how to become a neurologist.
Attend a 4-Year University
The first step to becoming a neurologist is to get a Bachelors degree from an accredited college or university. You aren’t required to get any specific degree, but it’s important to take classes in biology, chemistry, and physics.
When choosing an undergraduate program, it helps to look ahead toward medical school and choose a degree that fits their course requirements. Many universities have a specific pre-med track you can follow. This might take the form of a certificate you tack onto your Biology degree, or it could be a full-fledged degree program by itself.
As you enter your senior year of college, it’s time to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and apply to medical schools. Study hard for the MCAT and take a prep course if you can, because your score is a big part of your med school application. In some cases, a stellar MCAT score can even make up for a lower-than-average GPA.
Once you’re accepted into medical school, you’ll be in the program for 4-5 years. You’ll start out by learning the foundations of medicine and progress further into neurology later in the program.
After you’ve graduated with a medical degree, you have to apply for a residency before you can practice as a neurologist on your own. Neurologists in America have to complete a 1-year internship in internal medicine and then move onto a 3-year residency in neurology.
During this time you’ll be under a doctor’s supervision as you learn the ropes of practicing outside of a school environment. Residencies are known for being intense, but they’re one of the most valuable parts of your training.
Choose a Specialty and Apply for a Fellowship
Many neurologists decide to pursue training in a specific sub-specialty after their residency. To do this, they apply for a 1-8 year fellowship program at a hospital, clinic, or private practice.
Some offices provide a variety of integrated neurology services, while others only provide treatment for brain injuries or pediatric neurological disorders. To secure a fellowship, you’ll have to apply at places that specialize in the area you want more training in.
The final step before beginning your neurology career is to become board-certified. While this isn’t necessary in all cases, many hospitals won’t work with clinicians who aren’t board certified.
You’ll have to pass a series of oral and written examinations and submit your application to the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Once you meet their requirements and pass the exams, you’re free to join a hospital or open your own clinic!
How to Become a Neurologist: Your Questions Answered
There you have it: a brief overview of how to become a neurologist. It’s a long and challenging road, but once you enter the profession you’ll be able to make a difference in people’s lives like you never could have imagined.
If you found this article helpful, make sure to check out the rest of our site for information on other potential careers.