Neurology is all about the human body’s nervous system. The nervous system is composed of two parts – the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The spinal cord and brain belong to the central nervous system. The brain controls all the organs and systems in the body allowing humans to function properly while the spinal cord is composed of nerves that connects the brain to the body. On the other hand, the peripheral nervous system consists of neurons that carry electric impulses to the body. When the nervous system ceases to function properly, people seek the assistance of neurologists. They are doctors in the field of neurology. Their expertise is the nervous system.
A Neurologist career can either be in the form of a principal care provider or someone referred to as a specialist and consultant to other physicians. As a principal care provider, a neurologist will treat patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease to name a few. If functioning as a consultant, the neurologist will diagnose and treat a patient with a neurological disorder and then recommend actions for his primary physician, who is in charge of his overall healthcare.
What Do Neurologists Do?
Neurologists perform neurological examinations on a patient. Tests include an examination on the vision, coordination, strength, sensation and reflexes. Some tests also require detailed information about the patient’s cognitive abilities like speech and language as well as memory. The tests will aid the neurologist in determining if the patient is suffering from any neurological disease. Special tests that neurologists use in making a diagnosis include: computerized axial tomography (CAT scans), electroencephalography (EEG), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Other neurologists also use a spinal tap or lumbar puncture to obtain cerebrospinal fluid and EMG/NCV or electromyography and nerve conduction velocity testing to examine the muscles and nerves.
Although neurologists diagnose and treat neurological diseases, they do not perform surgical operations. They merely recommend what surgical treatment is necessary to a neurosurgeon. Aside from diagnosis and treatment, neurologists also prescribe medication for neurological disorders, advise their patients to seek other medical expert whenever necessary, and interpret the results of neurological examinations.
Pursuing a career in neurology can also be financially rewarding. Recent studies reveal that the demand for neurologists is on the rise. There are also numerous career opportunities to choose from depending on one’s specialty. A neurologist can earn more than $200,000 in a year.
How to Become a Neurologist
Like any other medical profession, being a neurologist requires discipline and perseverance. It demands long years of studying. It requires four years of undergraduate study of any pre-medicine or science based degree. After graduation, another four years is needed for medical school. When you are finished with medical school, you need to complete internship training and three years specialized training in movement disorder, stroke and epilepsy among others. They also need to pass the medical board examination and obtain certification in neurology in the state they intend to practice their profession. Aside from the educational requirement, neurologists must also be willing to work long hours and be ready to be on call twenty-four/seven. They need to possess outstanding communication skills, emotional maturity and empathy to be able to deal with patients effectively.
A career in neurology opens new doors that can be both rewarding and challenging. The work of a neurologist revolves around diagnosis and treatment of patients. Neurologists often work in hospitals and clinics. Some of them are engage in private practice and maintain their own private clinics. There are also those employed by different universities as teachers. Neurologists may also opt to specialize in other fields of neurology. This requires extra training. Other fields in neurology that can be pursued include geriatric neurology, pediatric neurology, neuroradiology, neurosurgery and clinical neurophysiology.
If you are seriously considering a career in neurology, then you must study hard to get good grades. Prepare to read everything and anything about the human brain and behavior. It also helps if you take subjects in psychology since neurology also deals with behavioral and cognitive disorders. You can also add subjects on biology, chemistry, pharmacology and anatomy. A permanent job in a healthcare setting or volunteer work is also advisable. This enables you to meet people in the field of neurology and gain experience from people with neurological disorders. Volunteer work can also help in your application to enter medical school.