Career Development

Neurologist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Neurologists are medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of nervous system disorders. They look for patterns of injury or illness in the body to identify where and how problems are occurring. Common disorders that neurologists treat include epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, and other degenerative or age-related illnesses.

Neurologists are medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of brain and nervous system disorders. They look for patterns of injury or illness in the body to identify where and how problems are occurring. Common disorders that neurologists treat include epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, and other degenerative or age-related illnesses.

Some neurologists specialize in certain types of neurological disorders or focus their practices on specific populations. For example, pediatric neurologists are trained to diagnose and treat neurological disorders in children. Some neurologists may also be involved in research to discover new treatments for neurological conditions or new ways to diagnose them.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a neurologist and what it takes to become one yourself.

Neurologist Job Duties

Neurologists perform a wide range of duties, including:

  • Conducting physical exams to assess the patient’s health and identify any conditions that might impact treatment
  • Diagnosing people with various neurological disorders, illnesses or injuries
  • Performing diagnostic tests such as MRI scans and EEGs to determine the possible cause of symptoms
  • Prescribing treatments based on diagnosis, including medications, therapy, or surgery as needed to treat the cause of symptoms
  • Teaching stroke victims how to live with disabilities caused by strokes
  • Coordinating treatment plans with other medical professionals, including psychiatrists and physical therapists
  • Conducting research using cutting edge technology to study brain disorders or invent new treatments for previously untreatable conditions like dementia

Neurologist Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for neurologists is $237,515. The highest earners make over $432,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work in private practice.

Demand for neurologists is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade. As the population ages, there will be a growing need for neurological services. In addition, medical research into neurological diseases will require more skilled professionals who can diagnose and treat these conditions.

Neurologist Job Requirements

To become a neurologist, you’ll need a combination of the following:

Education: To become a neurologist, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree and then complete a graduate degree at an accredited medical school. During this time, candidates will take courses in anatomy, microbiology, immunology and other subjects related to the body and diseases. They will also complete rotations in different specialties like emergency medicine and surgery before applying for residency programs. Students should anticipate spending four years earning their undergraduate degree and four years pursuing their MD.

Training: Once a neurologist has obtained their medical degree, they can look for positions as residents at hospitals or clinics. Residency involves intensive on-the-job training, where they work under the supervision of an experienced neurologist. During this time, they will gain invaluable knowledge about the field of neurology and learn how to diagnose patients and treat their symptoms.

Certifications: Neurologists must be licensed by their state’s medical board and be board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). In addition, neurologists may choose to continue their education through various other certifications. The American Academy of Neurology offers several.

Neurologist Skills

In addition to the necessary medical education and training, neurologists require the following skills and traits:

Compassion: Neurologists must have a strong desire to help people. They also need to be able to communicate with patients in an empathetic manner. A neurologist often has to patiently explain diagnoses and home care to patients in layman’s language.

Communication skills: This job requires individuals to be able to communicate effectively with patients, colleagues, and other health care professionals. 

Manual dexterity: An individual must have manual dexterity to perform various tasks associated with this job.

Critical thinking skills: Neurologists must be able to think critically in order to know which diagnostic tools to use to make a diagnosis. Some of the diagnostics used in neurology are MRIs, CT scans, EEGs, PET scans, and lumbar punctures.

Analytical skills: Neurologists must be able to analyze symptoms and test results in order to determine the best course of treatment for each patient.

Teamwork: Neurologists must work well as part of a team, and they must keep detailed records to collaborate with other healthcare professionals.

Neurologist Work Environment

Neurologists work in an office environment. They may sit at a desk for long periods of time doing paperwork, reading patient files, or talking on the phone with patients and other doctors. Some neurologists treat patients who are hospitalized while some see them in their offices or visit them in their home. Neurologists often travel to attend conferences to learn about new research and treatment methods that they can apply in their own practices. 

A neurologist’s schedule is very busy, especially when working in a hospital. On average, they work 48-hour weeks. Neurologists may be on call for emergencies after hours, so their schedules can vary based on this.

Neurologist Career Path

Getting Started

The first five years of a neurologist’s career are spent in training and education. Individuals who complete their training and pass the boards must apply for post-residency positions, which will be competitive. Neurologists must be prepared to relocate as they seek new employment opportunities. The hours are long, but the satisfaction can be great.

Five Years On The Job

Five-year veterans are practicing neurology at an acceptable level. Compensation increases significantly during this period, although hours remain long. As neurologists gain experience, they may begin to specialize in one area of neurology or another (such as stroke or multiple sclerosis). Career-track professionals are satisfied with their work; many are compensated well enough to feel secure about their futures.

Ten Years On The Job

Neurologists who have demonstrated competence in their specialty areas are rewarded with higher salaries and increased control over their working environments. Most ten-year veterans have practice management skills that allow them to delegate certain responsibilities to others while keeping overall control of their practices. Satisfaction is high among those who have grown comfortable with the field and have established good reputations for themselves. Neurologists may choose to teach, write papers for medical journals, or conduct research into areas of interest within the field.

Neurologist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how neurologists work. Neurologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

New Brain Implants for Parkinson’s Disease

There are currently three different types of brain implants available to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease, including deep brain stimulation (DBS), which involves the surgical implantation of a small device in the brain that sends electrical signals to specific areas and has been found to help reduce tremors and other symptoms.

Another type of implant, called the responsive neurostimulation system (RNS), is an under-the-skin device that can be adjusted wirelessly via remote control and has been found to improve both motor function and quality of life for those suffering from Parkinson’s.

The third type of treatment is called pallidal stimulation (PS) and is used as a last resort treatment when DBS or RNS fail to alleviate symptoms. PS involves implanting electrodes into a specific area of the brain, but requires less invasive surgery than DBS or RNS.

Increased Focus on Aging Population

As the population ages, more attention is being paid to the potential causes of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

As these diseases are commonly diagnosed in later life, doctors are likely to need additional training in order to identify symptoms at an earlier stage. 

Medical Cannabis

As more states legalize medical cannabis, doctors are faced with a growing number of patients who may be using this substance. In order to better treat these patients, neurologists need to understand the properties of cannabis and its effects on the body in order to recommend treatments that will help patients find relief from their symptoms.

To learn more about medical cannabis, neurologists can contact groups like the American Epilepsy Society and the American Academy of Neurology for support.

How to Become a Neurologist

1. Planning Your Career

Because of the demanding requirements for entry into this field, it is important to have a clear vision for what you want to achieve with your career as a neurologist. 

Some neurologists work in academic or research settings while others treat patients in private practice; different areas of specialization also require different levels of education and experience. 

If you are still unsure about your goals, take some time to think about why you are interested in pursuing this profession. Do you want to help people manage chronic conditions? Do you want to study the underlying causes of neurological disorders? These answers can help guide your education and decision-making process moving forward.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for a neurologist position should focus on three things: education, clinical experience, and research. Be sure to include details about the work you did in your neurology residency. This can be a great way to show off your leadership, communication skills, and interpersonal skills.

It’s important to emphasize your professional knowledge of neurology in your resume. This may include experience in treating patients with brain injuries or disorders, diagnosing illnesses like epilepsy or Alzheimer’s, and performing surgeries like brain surgery or spinal cord surgery. You must include all relevant education that you have completed at a recognized institution including specialist training in neurology if applicable.

3. Applying for Jobs

There are a few ways to find jobs as a neurologist. The first is by networking with professionals already working in the field. Go to local conventions and meetups where neurologists gather and get involved with organizations like the National Academy of Neuropsychology and the American Neurological Association. Once you’ve established contacts, it’s time to show off your skills and get noticed. Start by writing for medical journals and attend industry conferences where you can give presentations and gain experience working with professionals. You can also look for jobs through your school’s career services office or through sites like Monster.com and Indeed.com.

4. Ace the Interview

When you’re interviewing for a neurologist job, you will likely be asked questions about your education and training as well as specific cases from your past experiences. Being able to explain how you arrived at a specific diagnosis is critical. It’s important to be able to show how your decision-making was based on sound reasoning and solid understanding of the disease process.

A good way to prepare for this aspect of your interview is by reviewing some case studies from actual patients that have been published in medical journals. Taking this step will help you increase your confidence in assessing these types of scenarios, as well as help you practice explaining your thinking as part of an interview.

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