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Neurologist Job Description, Career as a Neurologist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Medical education, internship, and specialty training.

Average Salary: $178,564 per year

Job Outlook: Very good

A neurologist is a physician who has been trained for diagnosing, treating, and managing the ongoing care of patients suffering from disorders of the nervous system. Neurologists are able to treat problems of the central, autonomous, and peripheral nervous systems, and of those systems’ respective coverings, including effector tissues like muscles and blood vessels.

The medical conditions that neurologists can diagnose and treat include cognitive/behavioral syndromes, epilepsy, traumatic injuries of the brain, cerebrovascular diseases like strokes, sleep disorders (including insomnia), cerebral palsy, encephalitis, infections that occur in the peripheral nervous system, tumors in the brain and spinal cord, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative disorders (including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease), meningitis, myelitis, movement disorders (including Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, tic disorder, and hemiballismus), altered mental higher status, coma, stupor, and encephalopathy. They may also have to treat neurological disorders for which there are no apparent physiological causes.

Some neurologists specialize in performing surgeries on affected neural clusters and are called neurosurgeons. Some may also specialize in treating neurological disorders in children and are called pediatric neurologists.

Most experienced neurologists are self-employed, but some may work in clinical laboratories or medical research institutes, devoting their time to clinical trials and research. Some neurologists may also find jobs in federal agencies, where they are required to carry out the psychological evaluation of people charged with a crime. Still others are employed in medical research institutes and medical schools as faculty members.

Education and Training Requirements

Educational and training requirements for neurologists can be quite demanding. They have to complete four years of premed (undergraduate) education, where they are required to study physics, biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, mathematics, and English. Premed is followed by four years of study in medical school and three to four years of internship, depending on the specialization chosen by the neurology student. The internship period consists of a year of training in internal medicine, followed by three years of training in neurological diagnostic procedures. That equals a total of about twelve years of postsecondary education.

Neurologists who take optional training in subspecialties—like vascular neurology, interventional neurology, epilepsy, neurorehabilitation, sleep medicine, neuroimmunology, pain management, behavioral neurology, and clinical neurophysiology—may need to complete longer internships, as fellowships of one or two years’ duration, before they can apply for a practicing license.

After completion of internship, neurologists have to apply for licensure in the state where they want to practice. Once they receive formal licenses, they can either start practicing in an independent manner or join a medical institute or hospital. It is also beneficial to volunteer for services in a community center, nursing home, or hospital. This experience can prove to be very useful later on.

Getting the Job

Neurologists often get hired when they are in the final year of their internship, via placement assistance services provided by the medical institutes where they have studied. Newspapers and Web sites often carry advertisements from prospective employers. Some medical research organizations and clinics also hire neurologists who have recently completed their internships. Still others may find work as faculty members in medical schools.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Job prospects for neurologists are expected to be very good in the coming years. As the baby-boomer generation approaches older age, rate of occurrence of neurological problems, like dementia and stroke, is expected to rise considerably, creating good job opportunities for neurologists. However, the demand for neurologists depends, to a large extent, on the government policies regarding health care reimbursements and legislation.

A neurologist can expect to be promoted to senior and managerial positions provided they are suitably qualified, have the required expertise, and are able to exhibit good leadership skills. Skilled neurologists who have completed fellowships in multiple fields and have maintained an excellent record throughout their education and career can expect to get promoted earlier. Those with extensive training in the field can choose to take up the position of a neurosurgeon. A lot of well-established neurologists are also involved in medical public relations and often publish their articles in medical and scientific journals.

Working Conditions and Environment

Neurologists usually work indoors, in a pleasant environment and well-lit examination rooms. However, as most other physicians do, they are not able to follow a 40-hour workweek. The profession can be quite stressful, and treating patients properly may require working for more than 60 hours in a week. Neurologists employed in busy medical facilities may have to put in extra hours during the week and also work on weekends. Those who work in research facilities and medical schools, however, enjoy regular working hours.

Salary and Benefits

The median yearly salary for neurologists in the United States is $178,564. The lowest 10 percent of neurologists (in terms of earnings) make less than $150,000 annually. The upper 10 percent make more than $208,000 every year. Neurologists with excellent work experience may even make as much as $300,000 yearly. Geographical location is another deciding factor when it comes to earning a better salary. For instance, neurologists working in the states of Minnesota, Nevada, South Dakota, New Hampshire, and Indiana report an average annual salary of $203,000, significantly over the national average.

Neurologists employed in hospitals and medical centers enjoy benefits such as medical and life insurance, sick leaves, paid vacations, and specialized training while on the job. However, the actual number of days allotted for paid leaves and vacations may differ between organizations. Self-employed neurologists can expect little or no benefits and often have to work for long hours. However, they are also known to earn more than neurologists employed in an organization.

Where to Go for More Information

American Neurological Association
5841 Cedar Lake Rd., Suite 204
Minneapolis, MN 55416
Phone: 952-545-6284

American Academy of Neurology
1080 Montreal Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55116
Phone: 800-879-1960 or 651-695-2717

American Association of Neurological Surgeons
5550 Meadowbrook Dr.
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
Phone: 847-378-0500 or 1-888-566-AANS (2267)

Child Neurology Society
1000 W. County Road E, Suite 290
Saint Paul, MN 55126
Phone: 651-486-9447

Journal of the American Academy of Neurology

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