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Brain Surgeon

Education and Training: Medical school, M.D., internship and residency
Average Salary: $186,044
Job Outlook: Very good

Brain surgeons, also known as neurosurgeons, treat brain injuries and illnesses through operative procedures. They also examine patients, conduct diagnostic tests, and provide counseling for diseases which can be treated with medication.

Unlike general physicians and surgeons, brain surgeons specialize in one area. They correct deformities and conduct operations on patients who have been administered anesthesia in order to correct problems like injuries, tumors, and others. In case of accidents, brain surgeons may have to perform emergency operative procedures to save a patient’s life.

Due to the nature of work, brain surgeons are on call round the clock and work long hours. However, they also earn some of the best salaries amongst all professions.

Education and Training Requirements

In order to become a brain surgeon, a lot of time has to be invested in studying. Surgeons and doctors have eight years of education after high school and spend at least 6-8 years in internships and residency.

It is mandatory for premedical students to complete undergraduate coursework in physics, biology, chemistry, English, and social sciences. During their first three years of premedical studies, it is recommended that students intern or volunteer at local hospitals to get some practical experience.

After completing four years at college, students can join medical school. Entry into medical school is very competitive. High MCAT scores, letters of recommendation, and well written personal essays are some of things that can help you get admission.

Medical school lasts four years in which students spend the first two years in classrooms and labs. The last two years are spent working with physicians in clinics and hospitals so they can learn on the job.
Post medical school, all students enter residency, which can last anywhere from 2-8 years depending on the specialization you choose.

After spending seven years in residency, brain surgeons must take a licensure examination. A doctor can never say goodbye to studies as they will have to take advanced courses to keep up with the latest changes in medical technology and train themselves in new medical procedures.

Getting the Job

A brain surgeon gets a job only after spending time under the supervision of a senior brain surgeon. After completing medical school, you can seek residency in a hospital and learn through on job training. Brain surgeons start practicing after receiving state license to practice.

Student internships are a great way to get residency. All medical students are encouraged to volunteer or intern at hospitals.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Employment opportunities for brain surgeons are expected to increase 22% by 2018 due to the expansion of healthcare industries. Though the increasing cost of healthcare insurance may be a deterrent, brain surgeons will not have any shortage of employment opportunities due to their unique specialization.

Job prospects will be great for brain surgeons who wish to provide healthcare in rural or low income areas.

Throughout their career, brain surgeons must continue adding new skills. This could be in the form on new operative procedures or medical technology. A growing number of surgeons also teach part time at medical schools and also participate in medical research.

Working Conditions and Environment

Surgeons work in well lighted, sterile operating rooms and from their private offices in hospitals. They work long, irregular hours and are expected to be on call round the clock. Most surgeons work longer than the standard 40 hours a week, with most of them putting in as much as 60 hours a week, including weekends.

Salary and Benefits

As of May 2008, the median annual salary for brain surgeons was $186,044. Those with more than ten years of work experience and advanced specializations earned more than $300,000 annually.

Benefits include sick leave, paid time off, medical insurance, life insurance, and 401(k) plans.

Where to Go for More Information

American College of Surgeons
633 N Saint Clair St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 202-5000

American Medical Association
515 N State St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(800) 621-8335

Association of American Medical Colleges
2450 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 828-0400

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