How to Become a Neurosurgeon? – Overview
A neurosurgeon is a skilled surgeon who treats diseases and injuries affecting the brain and spinal cord. Neurosurgery is one of the most complex yet crucial specialties in medical science.
Neurosurgeons are responsible for surgically treating various disorders that cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems.
These include the brain and spinal cord nerves and the nerves in the rest of the body.
What does a Neurosurgeon do?
A neurosurgeon is trained to treat disorders and injuries to the body’s nervous system using surgical procedures.
The nervous system is an incredibly intricate and complex system of communication in the body.
Nerves and nerve cells transmit messages between the brain and other parts of our body. These nerves keep every organ and system connected with the brain.
The nervous system is incredibly important to us as it is needed for almost every bodily function. This system allows us to react, remember, think and plan.
Numerous disorders affect the nervous system. These may include birth defects, tumors, trauma, degenerative disease and even infections.
As a neurosurgeon, you will have the necessary skills and training to surgically treat these disorders, injuries and diseases.
How to Become a Neurosurgeon | 5 Steps?
There are five basic steps to becoming a neurosurgeon in the United States. Just like other medical fields, neurosurgery requires intense passion, drive and commitment.
These are the five steps to become a neurosurgeon:
1 – Earn an undergraduate degree
Undergraduate years are where your foundation to become a neurosurgeon is strengthened. Aspiring neurosurgeons are advised to enroll in an undergraduate degree course in science.
Make sure to choose biochemistry, microbiology and human anatomy in your curriculum.
For instance, you can earn a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science to meet the admission criteria for medical schools.
You need to enroll in an undergraduate course with pre-med requisites. You also need to achieve a minimum 3.5 GPA to be eligible for admission into an accredited medical school.
During the first year of your study, you must also take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
Once you do this, you will need to prepare an application for admission to their choice of medical school. For this, you can send the application for admission through mail or the online service.
This service is offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM).
2 – Enroll into accredited medical school
The next step to becoming a neurosurgeon is to get a Doctor of Medicine (D.M.) degree. For this, you will need to get enrolled in a reputed, accredited medical school.
During the first two years of medical school, you will most likely attend medical overview classes and experiential units.
Aspiring neurosurgeons can design their studies to include advanced classes. These may include clinical research, medical diagnostics, disease management and surgical practice.
You can also emphasize clinical rotations. This way, you get hands-on experience in examining and treating patients under the direct supervision of experienced neurosurgeons.
3 – Acquire a medical license
Once you graduate from medical school you should take the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).
This exam is hosted by the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Board of Medical Examiners. The USMLE test can also be taken in the first year of your neurosurgery residency.
Residency programs usually rely on USMLE scores to choose eligible students for residency. This exam is a legal requirement for aspiring doctors and surgeons in the US if they wish to practice medicine in the United States.
4 – Complete internship and neurosurgical residency
Once you have earned your M.D. you will need to complete at least one year as a hospital intern. The next 6 to 8 years are spent completing your neurosurgical residency.
During the internship, you will need to learn patient management and develop other essential skills required to become a skilled neurosurgeon.
In your residency years, you will work under the direct supervision of licensed, skilled neurosurgeons. This is incredibly useful to learn the skills which come in handy in your career as a neurosurgeon.
In the last couple of years of residency, you will be able to scrub in and assist with neurosurgical procedures.
5 – Acquire state license and get board certification
When you complete your neurosurgical residency you will need to apply for licensing. You will need to approach your state’s medical board for this.
The application for a license usually requires paying the nominal fee and submitting your school transcripts and test scores along with it.
Once you have acquired your medical license and have been practicing for some years you can then apply to get board certification.
You will need to approach the American Board of Neurological Surgery and meet their specified requirements. After passing the requisite exam, you will receive the prestigious board certification to boost your career.
What is the Average Salary for Neurosurgeons?
On average, a neurosurgeon in the US can earn anywhere between US$ 474,900 and US$ 798,200. The median salary for neurosurgeons is anywhere around US$ 630,800.
The specific salary amount varies according to different factors, such as education, certifications, experience, additional skills, etc.
Neurosurgeons are among the most revered professions in the world. To become one, you need to have leadership skills and a knack for problem-solving and improvising.
The average annual salary of neurosurgeons is also in the higher range which makes this a lucrative career too.
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